It’s not simply sadness, it’s not only crying, it’s not simply feeling down.
It is crushing, and hopeless, and seeing no point in anything.
It is feeling like you’re missing something everyone else has. Like you exist in monochrome while everyone else exists in colour.
Depression is a dark cloud that you cannot shake simply by wanting to. You can’t be cheered up, or think of people who have it worse. It’s an illness, and an awful one.
And like all other illnesses, symptoms vary from person to person. Some people have severe symptoms, some mild. Some people’s depression can be helped by a change of circumstances, others need medication in order to feel better.
The NHS lists a lot of different symptoms on their site, including psychological, physical, and social. It might be surprising to hear that depression can cause physical symptoms, but everything’s connected. Your mood can upset your body and vice versa.
Check out the NHS resources below for more information and a list of symptoms, as well as the Mind charity site, and WebMD. They’re all reputable sources of information, in my experience.
There are a few different treatment options for depression, and they fall into one of two camps: talk therapy and medication. Talk therapy (in the UK) is basically CBT – I don’t have a great opinion of this method, but it does work for a lot of people. It focuses on changing your thoughts and behaviors in order to change how you feel, and the idea is that once you have knowledge of this “tool” you can go away and manage your symptoms yourself.
The other option is medication. Anti-depressants. These are controversial. Some people take them without hesitation, others refuse to ever take them, and more are in the middle of the spectrum. There are several different kinds: SSRI’s, tricyclics, and a couple of less well-known ones.
I think that it comes down to a personal choice whether to take them or not. I would always try altering your lifestyle and try talk therapy first, but if those things don’t work for you there is absolutely no shame in taking medication. Personally, I’ve found it’s the only thing that’s really helping right now. Especially as getting mental health treatment on the NHS is almost impossible for a lot of people.