Depression is a common mood disorder which affects how you feel, think and act.


Everyone feels sad or fed up from time to time. However, these feelings usually last only a few days. Depression is where these feelings are severe or long-lasting. It leaves you feeling down most of the time and finding it hard to cope from day to day.


Depression affects roughly one in 10 people in the population. It has a number of possible causes, including our genes, hormones and chemicals in our bodies, or our backgrounds. Periods of depression may also be triggered by significant life events, such as work or financial stress, exams, relationship changes, family conflict, or concerns around identity or sexual orientation.

Most people with depression make good recoveries and live full lives with the right care and support.

Signs and symptoms

Depression can affect people in different ways and bring diverse symptoms which impact our psychological, physical and social wellbeing.

Signs and symptoms

These symptoms, if we do not get support for them, can have negative effects in our lives, such as employment issues, strain on relationships, drug and alcohol use, and thoughts of suicide.

In general, a person may be diagnosed with depression if they experience five or more symptoms for more than two weeks.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of overwhelming sadness and hopelessness
  • A loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities or hobbies that are usually enjoyed 
  • Difficulties with sleep, such as being unable to fall asleep, waking early, feeling overly-tired or having no energy to get out of bed
  • Changes in appetite, such as reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased food cravings and weight gain
  • Physical pains, such as headaches or muscle aches
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide or self-harm.

If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide and are in immediate distress, please contact the emergency services by calling 999 in Ireland or 112 anywhere in Europe.


Depression is a very treatable condition. When you have received the right diagnosis and your individual needs have been properly assessed, recovery can begin within weeks of beginning a treatment plan.


If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, start by talking to your GP. They can give you guidance and may recommend that you are referred for assessment at a community mental health service or as an inpatient in hospital.

Treatment for depression can involve a number of approaches. Psychological supports can include therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT). Self-help and self-management practices, such as mindfulness, can also be very helpful. In addition, some people may take a course of medication to manage their symptoms.

You can find out more about our Depression Recovery Programme here.

Useful resources

If you have questions about mental health or our services, please see our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Life without mental health stigma

If you are living with depression, you should not be treated unequally or unfairly. Find out more about what life without mental health stigma in your home, work and community means.

See our #NoStigma campaign 

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Eating Disorders


For general queries, please call us. For more on mental health and our services, see our frequently asked questions (FAQs).

01 249 3200 See our FAQs


Contact Referral and Assessment Service for queries regarding referrals to our services.

01 249 3635 See more from our referrals team