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Clinical depression

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They're wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it's not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together". The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery.

How to tell if you have depression

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.

They range from lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety. There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and complaining of various aches and pains. The severity of the symptoms can vary. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while at its most severe depression can make you feel suicidal and that life is no longer worth living.

Many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it's best not to delay. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.

Sometimes there is a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as bereavement, losing your job or even having a baby, can bring it on. People with a family history of depression are also more likely to experience it themselves. But you can also become depressed for no obvious reason.

Treatment

Treatment for depression involves either medication or talking treatments, or usually a combination of the two. The kind of treatment that your doctor recommends will be based on the type of depression you have.

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