Verification: 254416efef74e6f1 What is depression?

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health condition that can affect anyone. The NHS state it is

‘more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.’

How do I know if I have depression?

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Signs that you might be depressed include:

Changes in your mood

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm

Physical changes

  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Lack of energy

Changes in how you connect with others

  • Avoiding contact with people
  • Difficulties at home, work or with family
  • Neglecting hobbies or interests.

Depression affects people differently, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild depression may make you feel persistently low in mood, whilst severe depression may make you feel that life is no longer worth living.

Read more about depression on the NHS website

Autistic people usually have the same symptoms as non-autistic people, but they may be more likely to experience:

  • social withdrawal
  • increased repetitive behaviours
  • a change in interests (perhaps becoming more focussed on death or dying)
  • more frequent meltdowns
  • an increased risk of self-harming or suicidal thoughts.

Why might autistic people experience depression?

General causes of depression that can affect anyone include:

  • experiencing stressful events or trauma
  • a family history of depression
  • other mental or physical health conditions
  • drugs, alcohol, or medication.

There may be reasons for depression that are specific to autistic people. Daily life can be more challenging for autistic people. Differences in understanding social situations and relationships, and being misunderstood or not accepted by non-autistic people can all increase anxiety and stress. This can lead to low self-esteem, social isolation and loneliness. These can all contribute to depression.  

Other reasons include:

  • alexithymia (difficulty identifying, understanding and managing feelings)
  • a lack of adequate support.

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