Feeling blue or depression?

Caroline Cassidy

We all feel low sometimes and stress, sadness and irritability will almost certainly feature in our lives at some point. But if these feelings won't go away, you could be suffering from depression.

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The symptoms of depression can be complex. Sufferers may display psychological symptoms such as a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness, tearfulness, irritability, a lack of interest or motivation and anxiety.

Depression can also cause problems with concentration and memory and thoughts of suicide are a definite signal.

But there are physical symptoms too - a change in appetite or weight (either an increase or decrease), unexplained aches and pains, a lack of energy and reduced sex drive as well as problems sleeping can all be a sign of something more serious than feeling blue.

The NHS advises that if you are exhibiting five or more of the symptoms listed above, you should seek advice and support from your GP.

However, many of us will have experienced some or a combination of the above symptoms. If they appear on occasion, or during a particularly bad day, the chances are you're just having an off day.

It is when the symptoms are prolonged and present for most or all of every day that help should be sought.

Remember - depression is an illness and should be treated as such. If you are unable to shake off those feelings, visit your GP who can advise on treatment options or refer you to someone who can help.