Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects everyday life.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening; causing individuals to feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.
“It feels like I’m stuck under a huge grey-black cloud. It’s dark and isolating, smothering me at every opportunity.”
When does low mood become depression?
We all have times when our mood is low, feeling sad or miserable about general events within our life. Usually these feelings pass in due course. However, if the feelings are interfering with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or return on a regular basis for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.
“It starts as sadness, then I feel myself shutting down, becoming less capable of coping. Eventually, I just feel numb and empty.”
Are there different types of depression?
If you are given a diagnosis of depression, you might be told that you have mild, moderate or severe depression. This describes what sort of impact your symptoms are having on you currently, and what sort of treatment you’re likely to be offered. You may also move between different levels of depression during an individual or series of episodes.
There are also some specific types of depression:
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): depression that typically (but not always) occurs in the winter during the cold, short days.
- Dysthymia: continuous mild depression that lasts for two years or more. Also called persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression.
- Prenatal depression: sometimes also called antenatal depression, it occurs during pregnancy.
- Postnatal depression (PND): occurs in the weeks and months after becoming a parent. Postnatal depression is usually diagnosed in women but it can affect men too.
Is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD) a type of depression?
PDD is a severe form of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Many women experience PMS, but for some women their symptoms are severe enough to seriously impact their daily life. This is when you might receive a diagnosis of PDD. Most women who experience PDD find that depression is a major symptom. See NHS Choices for more information about PMS and PDD.
“Sometimes it feels like a black hole but sometimes it feels like I need to cry and scream and kick and shout. Sometimes I go quiet and lock myself in my room and sometimes I have to be doing something at all times of the day to distract myself.”
If you believe that you or someone you know could be experiencing depression or any other health issue then help is available via the Health Assured helpline for professional support via the online health and wellbeing portal or through the mobile App, Health-e-Hub.