Depression is a disorder of mood. It affects up to 15% of the general population at any one time. It is twice as common amongst women than men.

Symptoms of depression
Physical symptoms

  • Poor sleep
  • Tiredness
  • Poor appetite
  • Loss of libido
  • Poor concentration and memory
Psychological symptoms
  • Low mood
  • Inability to enjoy things
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feeling hopeless and pessimistic
  • Irritability
  • Having suicidal ideas
Suicide is more common in young men and the incidence in this group is increasing. This is probably because young men find it more difficult to ask for help.

Students commonly present with excessive tiredness and lack of concentration and motivation. These symptoms are often initially not recognised as depression.

Causes and contributing factors to depression
  • Illness
  • Some drugs
  • Upsetting life events and major life changes
  • Family history of depression
  • Bereavement
Diagnosis and management
Your doctor will take a detailed history and assess all the relevant contributing factors. Depression can be helped with medication, counselling or psychotherapy.

Drugs for depression
The most commonly prescribed drugs used in general practice are tricyclic, SSRI and NRI antidepressants. All these drugs can take 2-4 weeks to work and can cause a variety of side effects.

It is recommended to take antidepressants for several months to achieve the maximum benefit.

They should not be stopped abruptly and without discussion with your doctor.

Further information

This article published on
25 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


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