Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your 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 because it can make you 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.”
We all have times when our mood is low, and we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually these feelings pass in due course.
But if the feelings are interfering with your life and don't go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back over and over again for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you're experiencing 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 might move between different mild, moderate and severe depression during one episode of depression or across different episodes.
There are also some specific types of depression:
“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.”
How you might feel:
How you might behave:
“I had constant low mood, hopelessness, frustration with myself, feeling like I could cry at any moment.”
If you have low self-esteem you may feel:
Having little self-belief can stop you from living the life you want to live. Having low self-esteem isn't a mental health problem in itself, but the two are closely linked. Some of the experiences of low self-esteem can also be symptoms of mental health problems, such as:
If lots of things are affecting your self-esteem for a long time, this may lead to a mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety. Having a mental health problem can cause you to have low self-esteem, which can make it more difficult to cope or take steps to increase your self-esteem.
"It's that critical voice inside my head that makes me second-guess everything; what I've said, what I've done, how capable I am. I criticise myself in a way I wouldn't dream of doing to others.”
What affects our self-esteem differs for everyone. Your confidence may have been lowered after a difficult experience or series of negative life event, such as:
Or you may have had low self-esteem for as long as you can remember. If this is the case, it can be hard to recognise how you feel and make changes to challenge your low self-belief.
“My self esteem has almost disappeared.... I don't know how to interact with people anymore and find it hard to enjoy the things that I like.”
But whatever the cause, it can be helpful to remind yourself that you have the right to feel good about who you are. It can be difficult to break habits but there are steps you can take to feel better about yourself, bit by bit.
It's very common to experience depression and anxiety together. Some symptoms of depression can also be symptoms of anxiety, for example:
The sort of treatment you're offered for depression will depend on:
The main treatments for depression are:
** Information in this section is kindly provided by the mental health charity MIND **