How To Know if You Have Depression

Everyone goes through periods of feeling low; it’s a natural response to life’s challenges. Feeling sad from time to time is normal and affects each of us. Depression, however, is different. It is more than just a response to life’s struggles and is instead a mood disorder that does not go away. It changes the way you think and feel, affecting your ability to function in daily life, making even the smallest tasks feel overwhelming and impossible to achieve.

Fortunately, depression is treatable. Many people respond well to medication and talk therapy and find that they are able to change their lifestyles so that their symptoms ease.

Over recent years, there have been exciting developments in treating treatment-resistant depression. This means that even those who do not respond to first-line treatments such as medication and therapy can reduce their symptoms and live a happy and full life.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common mental health disorder in the United Kingdom. It is defined by an array of things, such as a continual feeling of sadness, loss of interest in life, and flatness. This persistent sadness can affect every area of your life, such as your work and relationships.

It is important to note that someone’s cultural context can affect how depression symptoms present themselves. For example, in some cultural contexts, physical symptoms of depression may be more prominent and might include pain, feeling exhausted, and weakness.

Unfortunately, there is still some stigma surrounding mental health conditions. However, people are becoming much more educated and aware of the complexities of mood disorders. In turn, this helps to break this stigma and normalise talking about it. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of what depression is and what it is not.

Depression is:

  • Something that can affect each one of us
  • A mental health condition
  • Very common
  • Something that can change and go away
  • A treatable condition

Depression is not:

  • Your fault
  • Something to be ashamed of
  • The same as just feeling a bit low from time to time
  • A sign of weakness or something you can snap out of
  • Something that will last forever

What Are the Reasons for Someone Developing Depression?

It is important to note that depression is not the result of one single cause. Instead, it can arise due to a complex mixture of factors. This means that the reasons for developing depression are different for everyone.

Some things that might trigger depression include:

  • Stressful events. Stressful events can be a cause of depression. The likelihood of developing depression if you do not open up to a family member increases, so make sure you seek support when you experience stress.
  • Family history. You are more likely to develop depression if it runs in your family; however, it does not mean that this is guaranteed.
  • Personality traits. Having low self-esteem and a pessimistic attitude can contribute to developing depression.
  • Giving birth. Some women begin to experience depression after giving birth – this is known as postnatal depression. Postnatal depression results from an overwhelming responsibility for a new baby, fluctuations in hormones, and physical changes that occur.
  • Substance abuse. Abusing drugs or alcohol can be a tempting quick fix when you’re feeling stressed. However, substance abuse (taking recreational drugs or drinking excessively) can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and can also lead to feeling depressed.
  • Illness. Some illnesses (especially chronic illnesses) can cause someone to experience symptoms of depression. A life-threatening medical condition such as heart disease, for example, can lead to depression, as can physical problems such as brain injuries.
  • Loneliness. Humans are social creatures, and isolation and loneliness are significant contributing factors to someone struggling with depression.

For some people, depression may feel surprising. They may have no idea why they feel the way they do, and they may find that they can’t explain their persistent low mood or loss of interest in things they once enjoyed. This is where brain chemistry could be at play. Some people may have low levels of neurotransmitters that regulate feelings of well-being.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Depression symptoms have no singular causal factor. Instead, they generally consist of a mixture of the following:

  • Feeling empty
  • Low mood
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling guilty
  • Trouble focusing
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hopelessness
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Changes in weight such as weight gain or weight loss
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Feeling pessimistic
  • Low libido
  • Aches, pains, and cramps
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression can have a devastating impact on your personal and professional life. However, like many other people, you may struggle to talk about it due to shame. For this reason, it is vital that we all educate ourselves and actively work towards destigmatising mental illness and cultivating safe and supportive spaces.

How to know if you have depression

Are There Different Types of Depressive Disorders?

Yes, there are different types of depression with varying symptoms. Depression can manifest itself in different ways and can be categorised into distinct types. Some of the common types of depression include:

  • Major depressive disorder (clinical depression)
  • Mild depression
  • Moderate depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Postnatal depression (sometimes called postpartum depression)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

What Are Some Warning Signs of Someone Feeling Suicidal?

Left untreated, depression can sadly lead to suicidal thoughts, so it is important to seek help for this illness before it becomes fatal. That said, it is never too late to ask for help. If you feel suicidal, please know that you are not alone, and you can recover – these thoughts won’t last forever, even though they feel overwhelming.

Some warning signs that you or someone you know is at risk of suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Talking about or feeling hopeless and purposeless
  • Talking about or feeling like you’re a burden or you’re trapped
  • Feeling as though your pain is unbearable
  • Frequently abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Experiencing sleep problems
  • Isolation from others
  • Having extreme mood swings
  • Seeming anxious, reckless, or agitated
  • Talking about wanting revenge and showing anger

If you or someone you know experiences suicidal thoughts, seek medical help or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as soon as possible.

How To Seek Treatment for Mental Disorders

If you are suffering from depression, know that you are not alone. It is important to seek professional help and open up to loved ones about how you are feeling. We recognise that this can be a big step, especially as being vulnerable and admitting you are struggling takes courage. However, it will be one of the most rewarding and worthwhile things you ever do.

Talking with a medical professional will help you develop a treatment plan that works for you. Depression treatment is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and instead works differently for each person. Often, a combination of treatments will be the most effective way of easing symptoms.

Different treatments include:

Talking Therapy

Talking therapies are often very successful in treating depression. Talking to a mental health professional can help you get to the root cause of your depression and support you in developing healthy coping strategies for moving forward.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of individual therapy that focuses on helping you overcome depression by changing your patterns of thinking and behaviour. It is a very popular method of treating depression and anxiety because it is practical and effective, and it can be done relatively fast in comparison with other types of talking therapy.

Group therapy is often done in conjunction with individual therapy and is another great form of treatment for depression. Group therapy offers people different benefits than individual therapy alone, such as a sense of connection to others, learning from people going through a similar thing, and a chance to try out new ways of behaving and communicating with others. In a group therapy session, one or more therapists will facilitate and there will be a group of people sharing their thoughts, feelings, and stories, and working to make positive changes.


Medication is often recommended for those with moderate to severe depression. Antidepressants help to balance out the chemicals responsible for mood in your brain. A mental health professional will be able to recommend the best type for you.


Understanding the warning signs of mental health disorders such as depression will help you take the first step in seeking treatment. If you experience any symptoms of depression or feel persistently sad, it is important to try and get help as soon as you can.

Left untreated, depression is incredibly dangerous. Fortunately, depression is a treatable illness, and it is entirely possible to get better. At The Revoke Programme, we’re here to help.

Contact us today to find out more about our outpatient mental and behavioural healthcare. Our experienced team is on hand to answer any questions you may have.

How to know if you have depression

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