What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental health issues. It is often not identified in the early stages and can present as feeling upset and sad about a negative experience or stage in your life. While depression can be triggered by a specific event, often a major life-changing event, the illness in its chronic form may not have any particular connection to external events. Sometimes depression can also occur without any causes being easily identifiable. A family history of depression increases the risk of falling ill.

What are the symptoms of depression?

The symptoms of depression are wide and varied and can include both psychological and physical effects. Among the most common are:

  • loss of energy
  • problems with concentration
  • feeling helpless and hopeless
  • loss of self-esteem
  • strong feelings of guilt
  • inability to enjoy your favourite activities
  • problems with sleeping
  • loss of sex drive
  • loss of appetite
  • suicidal thoughts
  • self-harming

Which symptoms you experience may be an individual matter, but it can also depend on how intense your depression is. Mild depression (which is still a matter to take seriously) can be primarily a persistent feeling of low mood, while severe depression can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

How is depression treated?

Depression is often treated with psychotherapy or counselling either on their own or in combination with antidepressant medication.

Short-term counselling is usually the treatment of choice in cases of mild depression. The person having treatment is more likely to experience improvements in their well-being and find a way forward than in cases of severe and chronic depression.

In the case of severe/chronic depression, a course of long-term psychotherapy may be recommended as the treatment of choice. The longer duration helps to uncover and examine any deep-seated psychological issues that may have triggered the depression, or that may be exacerbating it.


Maida Vale
Westminster, London, W9

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UK Council for Psychotherapy