Typically a person will be diagnosed with depression if they have 5 (or more) symptoms listed below in 2-week period nearly every day and there is a change in social, occupational or another important area of functioning.

  1. Depressed mood most of the day (e.g. feeling sad, ‘down’, empty) or
  2. Significantly reduced interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g. change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or change in appetite
  4. Difficulty sleeping properly (e.g. difficulty getting off to sleep, broken sleep or waking early in the morning) or sleeping excessively.
  5. Being agitated/restless or being much less motivated/active than usual
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  8. Reduced ability to think or concentrate, or make decisions.
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal thoughts.

Please note the above is not a substitute for diagnosis by a doctor. If you think you may be suffering from depression, especially if you are feeling suicidal, please speak to your GP.

Common triggers for depression include:

  • Loss
  • Inter-personal conflict e.g. with partner/boss/family member
  • Change of role in life e.g. change in job, children leaving home
  • Failure to achieve an ideal and being highly self-critical

Once a person becomes depressed they can become caught in a vicious cycles such as:

  • Ruminating or dwelling on problems or experiences
  • Negative or self-critical thinking
  • Withdrawing from relationships or activities that usually provide some form of reward
  • Avoiding dealing with chores and problems
  • Poorer care of themselves or their environment

CBT works by helping people break these vicious cycles that lead to the maintenance of low mood. CBT is the psychological treatment of choice for depression and has demonstrated benefits in reducing relapse.

For more information on depression you might like to take a look at this link from the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

The following books may also be helpful:
Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert
The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert
Manage your Mood by David Veale and Rob Willson