What is depression?
Depression is a serious illness. Health professionals use the words depression, depressive illness or clinical depression to refer to it. It is very different from the common experience of feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short period of time. When you are depressed, you may have feelings of extreme sadness that can last for a long time. These feelings are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, and can last for weeks or months, rather than days.
Depression is quite common and about one in ten people will experience depression at some point. However, the exact number of people with depression is hard to estimate because many people do not get help or are not formally diagnosed with the condition.
Women are more likely to have depression than men, and 1 in 4 women will require treatment for depression at some point, compared to 1 in 10 men. Men are far more likely than women to commit suicide, which may be because men are less likely to seek help for depression. Alternatively, it may be due to other factors including substance misuse, unemployment and social isolation.
Depression can affect people of any age, including children.
Studies have shown that about 4% of children aged 5-16 in the UK are affected by depression. People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience depression themselves. Depression affects people in many ways and can cause a wide variety of physical, psychological (mental) and social symptoms.
A few people still think that depression is not a real illness and that it is a form of weakness or admission of failure. This is simply not true.
Depression is a real illness with real effects, and it is certainly not a sign of failure.