Everyone has ups and downs, but feeling down or sad for long periods of time may be a sign of Depression.

Depression can make you feel without hope and out of control, but there are things you can do to improve how you feel. This section talks about what depression is, what are the signs and symptoms, and what treatment options and supports are available.

While feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, depression is much more than the temporary blues. Depression is a mental illness that affects our mood. Mood impacts the way we think about ourselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around us. Depression is more than a ‘bad day’. Without treatment, depression can last for a long time.

Symptoms of depression can include feeling sad, worthless, apathetic, angry, and anxious a lot of the time. You may experience feeling unrelenting despair, hopelessness, loss of energy and interest in things you once enjoyed. Finally, it can also be difficult to concentrate, make decisions, learn new things or there may be changes in your eating and sleeping patterns.

The Canadian Mental Health Association notes that age and sex can significantly impact how people experience depression. For instance, young people and older adults may experience lasting changes in mood that are mistakenly dismissed as a normal part of growing up or of aging. Additionally, males often experience irritability and anger rather than sadness, which can make depression harder for others to see. Finally, many new mothers suffer from some form of the “baby blues.” Postpartum depression, in contrast, is a longer lasting and more serious depression triggered, in part, by hormonal changes associated with having a baby. Postpartum depression usually develops soon after delivery, but any depression that occurs within six months of childbirth may be postpartum depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms and is worried it might be depression, reach out to a health care provider right away. Visit the Find Support page of this app for a listing of services in your area.

Just as the symptoms of depression are different in different people, so too are the ways to feel better. What works for your recovery may not work for someone else. In many cases, the best approach involves a combination of treatment with help from professionals, lifestyle changes, social and peer support.

Ask for help

The key to recovery is to start small and ask for help. Isolation can fuel depression so connect with others. Reach out to your health care provider as well as your family, friends, and peer support groups to talk about how you are feeling.

Seek professional help and treatment

There are many effective treatments for depression, including medication and counselling. Learning about your options will help you decide what measures are most likely to work best for your particular situation.

Make healthy lifestyle choices

Your physical wellness and mental wellness are one and the same. Eating well, exercising, getting enough rest, managing stress, getting involved in special interests, and creating supportive relationships all contribute to your wellness both physically and mentally.