Health & Safety

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15 April 2011

The word 'depression' is used to describe everyday feelings of low mood which can affect us all from time to time.

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Feeling sad or fed up is a normal reaction to experiences that are upsetting, stressful or difficult; those feelings will usually pass. If you are affected by depression, you are not 'just' sad or upset. You have an illness which means that intense feeling of persistent sadness, helplessness and hopelessness are accompanied by physical effects such as sleeplessness, a loss of energy, or physical aches and pains.

Sometimes people may not realise how depressed they are, especially if they have been feeling the same for a long time, if they have been trying to cope with their depression by keeping themselves busy, or if their depressive symptoms are more physical than emotional. Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depression. As a general rule, if you have experienced four or more of the below listed symptoms, for most of the day nearly every day, for over two weeks, then you should seek help.

Depression Symptoms

  • Tiredness and loss of energy,
  • Persistent sadness,
  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting,
  • Undue feelings of guilt or worthlessness,
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness,
  • Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual,
  • Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends ,
  • Finding it hard to function at work/college/school,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Loss of sex drive and/ or sexual problems,
  • Physical aches and pains,
  • Thinking about suicide and death,
  • Self-harm.

Depression Statistics

  • 1 in 5 people will have depression at some point in their lives.
  • More than 2.9 million people in the UK are diagnosed as having depression at any one time.
  • As many as three in four cases of depression are neither recognised nor treated, so the actual figure is much higher.
  • More than 70% of recorded suicide is committed by people with depression.
  • The World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2020, major depression will be second only to chronic heart disease as an international health burden.
  • More than 80% of people with depression can be helped with the appropriate treatment.

Depression Alliance is the leading UK charity for people affected by depression. They provide information and support services to anyone affected by this debilitating illness. They also campaign to reduce the stigma associated with depression so that no one is left to suffer in silence. You can help by raising awareness and joining Depression Alliance.