Anxiety and depression

What are the symptoms of depression?

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If you are in crisis or need urgent mental health support, get help now from the NHS. If someone's life is at risk, for example they've seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose, go to A&E or call 999. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one.

Most people feel low sometimes, but if it's affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help. Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with low mood, sadness or depression.

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Symptoms of a general low mood may include feeling:
  • Sad
  • Anxious or panicky
  • More tired than usual or being unable to sleep
  • Angry or frustrated
  • Low on confidence or self-esteem.

A low mood often gets better after a few days or weeks. It's usually possible to improve a low mood by making small changes in your life. For example, resolving something that's bothering you or getting more sleep. If you have a low mood that lasts 2 weeks or more, it could be a sign of depression.

Other symptoms of depression may include:

  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Not being able to concentrate on everyday things
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming yourself.
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  • Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: if you need someone to talk to
  • Use calming breathing exercises
  • Exercise: activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax
  • Find out how to get to sleep if you're struggling to sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable
  • Consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
  • Listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides.
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  • Do not try to do everything at once: set small targets that you can easily achieve
  • Do not focus on the things you cannot change: focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
  • Do not avoid situations that make you anxious: try slowly building up time spent in worrying situations to gradually reduce anxiety
  • Try not to tell yourself that you're alone; most people experience anxiety or fear at some point in their life
  • Try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anxiety as these can all contribute to poor mental health.
Referring yourself for therapy
If you need more support, you can get free psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS. You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from a GP. Find an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT)
See a GP if
  • You're struggling to cope with anxiety, fear or panic
  • Things you're trying yourself are not helping
  • You would prefer to get a referral from a GP.
Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if
  • You need help urgently, but it's not an emergency.
111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to or call: 111.
Call 999 or go to A&E now if
  • You or someone you know needs immediate help
  • You have seriously harmed yourself, for example, by taking a drug overdose.
Identifying the cause
If you know what's causing anxiety, fear or panic, it might be easier to find ways to manage it. Some examples of possible causes include:
  • Work: feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement
  • Family: relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone
  • Financial problems: unexpected bills or borrowing money
  • Health: illness, injury or losing someone (bereavement)
  • Difficult past experiences: bullying, abuse or neglect.
Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution. Find out more about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing.

Published: October 2022

Next review: October 2025

Reviewer: Mital Thakrar, Pharmacist