What causes depression?

The exact cause of depression is unknown. For some people it can occur for no apparent reason. Others can pinpoint a trigger such as a difficult life event, a bad time in their past or some sort of trauma. It can sometimes run in families. Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that depression can be as debilitating an illness as cancer or diabetes.


Half of all people affected don't seek help

Estimates suggest nearly 1 in 5 of us will experience depression at some point in our lives. This means 1,250,000 people living in Scotland will be affected. Potentially 500,000 Scots are currently experiencing varying symptoms of depression and half of these will not have any help or support.

The World Health Organization predicts that depression will soon be the second biggest cause of ill health world-wide.


How can I tell I have depression?

Your doctor can professionally diagnose depression. They will talk to you about the signs and symptoms and they may also ask you further questions about your life and mood and how you are coping.

If you think you are affected, why not find out about the symptoms of depression and how depression can affect you on our website? If you notice some of these changes to your body, moods, emotions, or thoughts have been affecting you for longer than two weeks with no easily identifiable reason, It's a good idea to get help. The website will also help you find out more about how depression can be treated. 


Support for depression

We offer support services to help treat depression. You can email us to find out how we can help you, or to learn of services in your local area. Our local self-help groups offer a way of sharing positive ways of overcoming depression.

We also provide practical assistance through our community life-skills courses which are based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Though it may sound complicated, CBT is a way of looking at how we can best react to various circumstances. Our free CBT online course can be completed in your own home with phone support and so is available for people in any part of Scotland.


Depression affects each person in different ways but there are some common symptoms:

Do you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself or others?

  • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Inadequacy
    • Anxiety
    • Self-hatred
    • Negativity
    • An inability to enjoy things which were once pleasurable in life
    • Guilt
    • Agitation
    • Weight loss or weight gain
    • Loss of energy or motivation
    • Loss of sex-drive
    • Disturbed sleep
    • Poor concentration, indecisiveness
    • Irritability, anger
    • Social withdrawal
    • Unexplained aches and pains
    • Self-harm
    • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide


Diagnosing depression

Everyone may experience some of the symptoms listed above from time to time. Doctors diagnose depression by looking at the persistence of symptoms and the extent to which they affect your daily life.

  1. Are these feelings persistent, meaning that they never seem to go away and don’t change much from day to day, even when there isn’t any particular reason for feeling that way?
  1. Do they interfere with your life, leaving you unable to enjoy things you normally like doing? In severe cases, depression can make normal everyday tasks like getting dressed or doing the shopping feel impossible?


Do you think you have depression?

If you notice that you have been experiencing some of these symptoms for over two weeks, that they are persistent and are interfering your work, study or home life, and you do not have any identifiable reason for feeling this way it is a good idea to see your GP.


Treating depression

The majority of people do recover from depression with support.

To recover from depression you need help and support that is going to work for you. There are a variety of different treatments and therapies for depression, and often people find that a combination of these works best.

There is no “golden rule” or “one size fits all” so what helps one person may not be the best treatment option for another. This is as true of medication as well as other therapies.

Do not give up if the first thing doesn’t work for you. Even if you think that your situation is hopeless, depression is treatable. There are many roads to get to the place of recovery.

In fact visiting this website is an important step in getting help for depression. Finding out what is available can help you make an informed choice about what might be best for you.


Treatment and support options for depression

These are some of the options available


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