Most people feel sad, fed up, unhappy or low at some point in their life - this is completely normal. It can be because of something that is happening in our life like a relationship issue, health troubles or problems at work and sometimes it can just seem to appear out of nowhere. We know that most of the time it won't affect us for too long but sometimes we might feel like this over a longer period of time and it can seem to take over our lives. In this case it might be that someone is experiencing depression.

Depression is not just an occasional low mood, it is a recognised condition that can affect the whole body as well as our mood and how we think. Depression is actually quite common; it affects about one in ten people at some time in their lives. For some people, it might happen only once and pass quite quickly without any outside help. For others, depression may be more of a problem – it may last longer or come back multiple times – in these cases, it may require treatment. Sometimes depression can be so severe it requires admission to the hospital.

Depression has many different symptoms. Some of the most common ones are listed below: 

  • Depressed mood. Feeling low, sad, miserable, hopeless, or irritable. Sometimes people feel bleak, numb, and empty.
  • Losing interest and enjoyment in previously enjoyed activities. Nothing seems like fun anymore. Things that used to be enjoyable feel like a chore. Motivation to do almost anything is very low.
  • Self-criticism and guilt. Feeling that you are bad, useless, inadequate, and worthless.
  • Pessimism. Very negative interpretations of the things that are happening around you. For example, thinking that nothing will work out right.
  • Hopelessness. Feeling that everything is bleak and pointless, and that it will always be like this. Some people feel as though there is “no point in trying”.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling tired all the time.
  • Reduced activity. Sometimes it gets to the point that people do very little, especially when compared to their life before depression.
  • Withdrawal from social activities. You may stop returning phone calls and begin avoiding occasions that involve socialising with other people.
  • Difficulty concentrating. You may have noticed that it is harder to read a book or watch a television program.
  • Memory difficulties. For example, you may forget where you put something, or forget your keys. There are other, more specific, memory changes as well. For example, it becomes easier to remember bad things that have happened to you and more difficult to remember good things.
  • Changes in sleep patterns. Some people have a lot of difficulty sleeping, while others feel as though they could sleep endlessly.
  • Changes in appetite and weight. Some people lose their appetite and may notice that they lose weight. Others may “comfort eat”, which often results in weight gain.
  • Loss of interest in sex. Some people find that they lose interest in sex, worry about their performance and experience difficulties with intimacy.
  • Thoughts of death. These range from thoughts that it wouldn’t be so bad to be killed accidentally to actively making plans for suicide. If you are having frequent or serious thoughts about suicide, then please talk to your GP as soon as you can.

 There is support and effective treatment out there that can help you manage your depression and improve your quality of life.  


Stress is a common experience in every day life. We feel stress in response to situations that we find difficult or challenging. A bit of stress can help to motivate us to reach our goals; however, too much stress can be bad for our bodies and minds. Feeling over-burdened at work, reacting to a major life event, and coping with a difficult situation we were not expecting are some examples of things people report as causing a high level of stress. Stressful life events do not necessarily have to be negative events. For example, events such as starting a new job, moving house and getting married can all be stressful.

Some people are able to accept the inevitability of stress in day-to-day life and resolve it as it arrives. For other people stress is a continuous and intrusive problem, and can sometimes be out of proportion to the event. It can reach such high levels that it interferes with everyday life, and disrupts relationships with others. Stress can lead to a feeling of despair and provoke a strong physical reaction from the body. If stress is prolonged, it may even lead to illness.

 Signs of stress can include: 

  • being irritable
  • not being able to concentrate
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • problems sleeping and being tired a lot
  • feeling run down or ill
  • feeling tense and drinking to cope, smoking too much or biting your nails, etc.

 There are lots of ways that you can improve your stress levels and we are here to help. There is support and advice that we can provide to help improve your quality of life. 


Anxiety is a normal experience and most people will be affected by it at some point in their lives. Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear and is the emotion we feel when we think we are under threat and cannot cope with a situation. Common situations that might make people feel anxious are exams, job interviews or public speaking.

In some situations anxiety can be helpful - eg, when crossing a busy road it can make you more alert and aware. However, for some people anxiety can seem unbearable and it can feel like it is always there. Indeed, when anxiety is experienced so intensely it can change the way we think, make us feel some unpleasant physical symptoms and even cause us to change how we behave so that it stops people doing what they want to do in life. Therefore, anxiety can be very distressing.

It is not uncommon to experience depression and anxiety at the same time.

Typical symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Feeling worried all the time
  • Feeling nervous or on edge
  • Thinking that something bad is going to happen
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Feeling tired
  • Feel restless and agitated
  • Feeling irritable/impatient
  • Sleeping badly
  • Panic attacks
  • Physical symptoms including an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, a dry mouth, trembling, sweating, nausea, light-headedness
  • Avoiding situations that cause anxiety or panic

This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other common symptoms of anxiety. 

The page was last updated on 25 April 2017 by andrea.bateman.


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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