What is depression?

Depression is a severe and prolonged state of mind in which normal sadness grows into a painful state of hopelessness, listlessness, lack of motivation and fatigue. It can vary from mild to severe. When depression is mild, you find yourself brooding on your own negative aspects or those of others. You may feel resentful, irritable or angry much of the time, feeling sorry for yourself, and feeling that you need reassurance from someone. You may suffer various physical complaints that do not seem to be caused by any physical illness.

However, as depression worsens, feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness combine with low self-esteem, guilt, and memory and concentration difficulties to bring about a severely painful state of mind. To make things worse, you may experience change in basic bodily functions. The usual daily rhythms seem to go ‘out of kilter’: you can’t sleep, or you sleep too much. You can’t eat, or eat too much. Others may notice that you are agitated or slowed down, and you find your energy for activities that you used to enjoy has hit ‘rock bottom’. You may even feel that life is not worth living, and begin to get thoughts that you’d be better off dead.