Depression Patient Information Fact Sheet

What is depression?
Depression is an illness that makes you feel sad and miserable over a long period of time. People who are depressed have difficulty coping with everyday life and may even feel suicidal. Depression is associated with a wide range of symptoms and can be treated.

Who suffers from depression?
Anybody can get depressed at any time of their life. However, some people seem to be more prone to depression than others. This may be because of previous experiences or because of their body chemistry. Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed.

What causes depression?
Depression is a result of disturbances in your body chemistry. These disturbances can be triggered by traumatic or stressful events, such as bereavement, marriage or relationship problems, unemployment, redundancy, retirement, financial difficulties, an operation, childbirth or an illness. However, it is equally common for depression to have no obvious cause. A special type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs mainly in the winter (when there are fewer hours of sunlight during the day) and can be treated with light therapy. Postpartum depression is moderate to severe in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery.

Possible symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling miserable and upset
  • Feeling tired and lacking motivation
  • Feeling useless, helpless, and hopeless
  • Loss or gain in appetite and/or weight
  • Lack of sleep or excessive sleeping
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness
  • Self-hatred
  • Irrational fears
  • Oversensitivity
  • Bursts of anger or impatience
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal ideas (feeling life is not worth living)
  • Delusions and/or hallucinations