What is depression?

Depression is the experience of being in a really low mood, pretty much all the time, over a long period of time. Depression can be a serious illness, which leaves you feeling sad or miserable most of the time. It’s been described as “being sad and empty”, and “feeling totally hopeless”.


The experience of depression is different for each person. But people who are depressed usually have several of the common symptoms of depression, for at least two weeks. Anyone who’s been depressed will tell you - it’s pretty tough to deal with. But the good news is, you can get through it, and there is help out there.

How do I know if I'm depressed?

It’s normal to feel a bit down now and then, especially when we’re going through a tough time. That’s just part of life. But depression is something different - it’s a recognised medical condition. Check out the symptoms of depression below. If you’ve had some of these symptoms, and they’ve lasted for more than a couple of weeks, or even just a couple but really severely, then it’s probably a good idea to get some help.


Or you might want to try the Self-Test. It only takes a few minutes to answer the multi-choice questions and then get your results. There’s also a Fact Sheet that you can read and print (which is handy if you want to talk about it with someone else).

How do I know if someone I know is depressed?

It can be hard to tell if someone is depressed. They might be going through a rough time, but coping with it okay – or it could be something more serious. Have they been really low, for longer than two weeks? Then check out whether they have other symptoms of depression.


If you think someone you know might be depressed, look for the signs, and talk with them. They may need your help.

What should I do if I think someone is depressed?

Do you know someone who seems really down? Perhaps it’s one of your mates, or someone in your family. You’re probably wondering what can I do to help?


Research shows that young people are most likely to turn to close friends or family for support, so you’re probably in a really good position to help. Being there for them could make a big difference.


For useful advice on how to talk to the person, and other ways you can help, read this Fact Sheet. If you want to hear from people who’ve helped others, check out some of our video stories, or try the Chat section.


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What are the common symptoms of depression?

  • feeling sad, grumpy, or miserable most of the time
  • feeling restless or lacking in energy
  • crying, or getting angry or upset for no obvious reason
  • losing interest in things that you used to enjoy
  • cutting off from your friends and family
  • feeling worthless, or guilty about things that weren’t your fault
  • having trouble concentrating, forgetting things
  • losing a lot of weight, or gaining a lot of weight
  • having sleeping problems – not being able to sleep, or sleeping a lot
  • thinking about death or having suicidal thoughts


Do these sound familiar? If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms (or even just a couple of them, but in a big way), you may be suffering from depression. To find out more, take the Self-Test.


Does someone you know have these symptoms? For advice on helping them, click on the link below.