What is depression?

Depression is commonly described as ‘feelings of severe despondency.’ While this is true, depression is a complex condition which can vary from person to person. Symptoms can come and go or persist for longer periods, affecting individuals’ working, social and family lives. 


The degrees of depression are diagnosed by doctors and can vary from mild depression, which has some impact of day-to-day life, to severe, which makes it almost impossible to get through daily life.


If you are experiencing symptoms of depression every day, for more than two weeks, we recommend that you visit your GP.


Symptoms list:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness

  • Feeling hopeless and helpless

  • Having low self-esteem

  • Having no motivation or interest in things

  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life


You may experience physical symptoms with depression too, they include:

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual 

  • Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased) 

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Unexplained aches and pains

  • Lack of energy

  • Loss of libido

According to the Mental Health Foundation, depression is the predominant health problem worldwide.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Did you know?

Supporting those with depression

Focus on supporting, not fixing

As difficult as it may be to watch a loved one suffer with depression, it is important not to try and ‘fix’ them. Unfortunately, you cannot rescue someone from depression – although you can help them – as their recovery is ultimately in their own hands. The best thing you can do is to support them by listening and being there when they need you.

Hold back judgement

Listening to an individual and asking how you can help is really important to anyone suffering from anxiety. What is helpful to one person may not be for others. So, you should always try to take on board what they’re saying, rather than handing out advice – however tempting. It can feel distressing for an individual if they feel they are being forced into a situation before they feel ready. So, be sure to bear that in mind.

Be positive

Small steps to recovery are often very daunting for individuals suffering from depression. By reminding your loved one how well they are doing, and that you are proud of them, you’ll be helping to combat their negative thoughts, which are common among those suffering from the condition.

Encourage with caution

If you are in the process of encouraging your loved one to seek help, you may find that this is easier said than done. Seeking help is a big step for someone who is living with depression, so try not to pressurise them, but instead gently remind them of the positives that seeking help can bring for their wellbeing.


Supporting yourself - how to cope with depression

Develop a support network

When suffering with depression, it is easy to be influenced by the people around you. That is why it is key to spend time with your loved ones who are supportive and can keep your spirits up. Finding an individual or multiple people who you can confide in, or even someone who has had similar experiences, can help you to stay well and feel less alone.

Keep track of your moods

Ever heard of keeping a food diary? Well, we’re suggesting you keep a ‘mood’ diary to help you keep track of the changes in your mood. By keeping a mood diary, you may be able to identify what triggers your low mood and see what lifts your mood, so you can focus your time on doing things or seeing people that make you feel better. Likewise, it can help you notice if any particular activities, places or people have a negative impact on your mood.

Create a routine

Often, when people are suffering with depression, it affects their sleeping pattern, which can make symptoms worse. Try go to bed at the same time each night and wake up around the same time each day, creating a routine that will be beneficial for you. That way you can avoid staying up late and sleeping through the day.

Invest in self care

It’s common to neglect self-care, especially when you’re feeling low and out of sort. One way to address this is to write a list of things that make you feel good and set aside time to do them; even things as small as having a shower, painting your nails or listening to your favourite music can make a difference. Whatever it is, it is important that you designate time to focus on yourself.

If your depression is starting to interfere with daily life to a debilitating degree, you may be suffering with an acute condition which your GP can help you with.


If you have been diagnosed with acute clinical depression, assistance could be invaluable to your recovery. That’s where our experienced team and one-to-one Support Workers can make all the difference. You can find out more about Independent Living West Country and our range of services here.

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