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Depression - Taking the first step

This week (22nd-28th April) is depression awareness week and with currently 1-5 people in the UK suffering from some form of depression, Men’s Sexual Health agree more should be done to lower the stigma and raise the awareness around mental health and depression.

The word 'depression' is used to describe everyday feelings of low mood which can affect us all from time to time. Feeling sad or fed up is a normal reaction to experiences that are upsetting, stressful or difficult; those feelings will usually pass.

If you are affected by depression, you are not 'just' sad or upset. You have an illness which means that intense feeling of persistent sadness, helplessness and hopelessness are accompanied by physical effects such as sleeplessness, a loss of energy, or physical aches and pains.

Sometimes people may not realise how depressed they are, especially if they have been feeling the same for a long time, if they have been trying to cope with their depression by keeping themselves busy, or if their depressive symptoms are more physical than emotional.

Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depression. As a general rule, if you have experienced four or more of these symptoms, for most of the day nearly every day, for over two weeks, then you should seek help

  • Tiredness and loss of energy
  • Persistent sadness
  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting
  • Undue feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual
  • Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends
  • Finding it hard to function at work/college/school
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sex drive and/ or sexual problems
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Thinking about suicide and death
  • Self-harm

Depression can sometimes make every-day things such as speaking to friends, eating a meal or even just getting out of bed feel almost impossible to manage.

It can feel confusing when things you once took for granted become so difficult and many people can start to feel unsure of who they are and what they’re good at. Sometimes people may have to take time off work, find it hard to spend time with friends or family and can feel too exhausted to do the things they used to enjoy.

Not being able to ‘see’ depression in the same way you could do with a broken arm or leg can often make it feel difficult to explain to others why you find it so hard to get out of bed or why you feel unable to concentrate at work. People with depression can often feel unable to talk to their family, colleagues and friends about what they’re experiencing and may feel like they have to hide it from those around them. They might hope it will go away by itself, or that they just need to ‘toughen up’ and ’snap out of it’. Indeed, it’s often something that can go up and down and can sometimes take a long time until it becomes manageable.

Depression is different for everyone, but just like any other illness it can get better with the right help and support. There are many different ways of managing depression that can help you to lead a normal, healthy and active life.

At Men’s Sexual Health we are also aware how people who have difficulty with their sexuality can be at much greater risk of depression, especially young people where growing up is already a difficult time, to feel different than what’s ‘perceived’ as ‘normal’ can many to spiral into depression. In a recent survey 53% of LGB (lesbian, gay & bisexual) youths, have contemplated self harm, 40% attempted at least once and 32% on more than one occasion. Even more saddening, LGB youths are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than that of their heterosexual peers. Many will often attempt to cope with such distress with smoking, drinking and illicit drug use, with percentages of usage again much higher than their peers, for example, alcoholism affects the LGB community at a rate of 22-30 percent compared with 10% the national average

But it’s not just a youth issue; many older LGB people also suffer from depression, for many different reasons, and not all because of their sexuality.

Regardless of your sexuality, talking to someone you trust can be an important first step. Most people with depression are treated by their doctor, who'll listen to what you're experiencing and chat to you about treatment options. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest:

  • self-help(e.g. support groups, exercise, changes in diet)
  • talking treatments (e.g. CBT, counselling)
  • antidepressant tablets

Everyone is different so it can sometimes take time to find the right treatments and you might need to visit your doctor on a number of occasions.

But it’s important to take that first step, and make contact, you can either call us on 01793 250951 if you are Swindon based, or if national you can call the Samaritans  08457 90 90 90. We can offer counselling service for clients who are Swindon based.

To read more about depression visit