Depression & Low Mood



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Depression is a common mental disorder which is different from the common emotions of a fluctuating mood. Depression is moderate or severe in feelings of sadness that, alongside other symptoms, seriously impact a person’s way of going about their daily lives, whether it’s struggling in work or school, withdrawing from friends and family or functioning poorly, such as having a loss in appetite, a lack of interest in hobbies or a disrupted sleeping pattern.


Depression is a common illness affecting people around the world - more than 264 million people to be exact, as cited in findings issued by the World Health Organisation in 2020. Depression is a serious health condition affecting around one in 10 people throughout their lifetime and studies show that around 4% of children in the UK between the ages of 5 and 16 are depressed or anxious, and more women than men are affected. When depression is at its worst, it can lead to suicide.


What causes depression?

There isn’t one single cause of depression, but it can have a variety of triggers. Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, money worries, health issues, losing a job or having a baby can all cause symptoms of depression. It’s possible for symptoms to develop despite explainable triggers and people who have a family history of depression are genetically more at risk. Lifestyle choices and circumstances can also increase the likelihood of depression, including the impact of serious illness, drug or alcohol abuse or routine exposure to stressful environments.


Am I depressed?

The symptoms of depression can be thoughts, feelings or behaviours which we all experience as a low mood. But if you’re depressed, this feeling might become more unbearable, longer-term or can be experienced alongside other symptoms. The more symptoms someone has, the more likely they are to be depressed. 

Depression can change your behaviour and the things you were once able to do become more difficult. You might be less interested in socialising and withdraw from family or friends. You might feel less productive in your work or studies, and find it difficult to concentrate. You might take less enjoyment from activities you used to enjoy and your sleeping patterns may change, whether you’re sleeping more or less. You might rely on alcohol or substances to cope and your sex drive or appetite might be impacted.

People with depression tend to feel unhappiness, sadness, frustration, a lack of confidence, anxiety, indecision or irritability. Other symptoms include feeling tearful, hopeless or more overwhelmed than usual.


How can I support depression?

Talking therapies, which involve speaking to a trained professional, can help you explore your depression and discuss any feelings that may be concerning you. Another treatment is antidepressants which can be prescribed by your GP and taken alongside talking therapy or on their own. For information about antidepressants, visit NHS Choices. The type of treatment which suits you will depend on the severity of your depression and it’s recommended you speak with your GP to assess your symptoms. For mild cases of depression, treatment can often be through developing coping techniques, such as mindfulness, breathwork, learning healthy thoughts patterns through CBT or making lifestyle changes, such as exercising, getting outdoors into nature, reducing alcohol intake and eating healthy. 

Many people with depression seek support, whether it’s through a mental health support service, a community wellbeing service, speaking to someone through a helpline or getting counselling such as talking therapy, CBT, life coaching or creative therapies.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing depression, it’s important to reach out and get help. 



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Improving our mental, emotional wellbeing begins with learning. When we understand mental health and how it can be impacted, it helps us to support ourselves and others through mental health problems. Knowing is the key to unlocking a happier, healthier life – not just for ourselves, but our loved ones, too.


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There are simple things we can do everyday to improve how we feel and this section is full of inspiration to help us look after ourselves. Everyday maintenance of our mental health is not just a necessary part of life, but it helps us to thrive and feel our best.


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In moments of need, there’s always someone there for you. Before calling a helpline, check the opening times by clicking to their website. It can help to check if the call is free or if there’s a cost involved before calling.


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Helpful Resources


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  • Aware - Depression Factsheet (PDF Download)
  • The Recovery Letters - The letters are written from people recovering from depression, addressed to those currently suffering. At the moment the letter writers have experienced different types of depression including clinical/major depression, bi-polar and post partum depression. (Website)
  • Samaritans - Self Help explore relaxation techniques straight away or take your self-help further by creating an account. (Website)
  • NICE (National Institute for Care Excellence) Depression Guidelines - This guideline covers identifying, treating and managing depression in people aged 18 and over. It recommends treatments for first episodes of depression and further-line treatments, and provides advice on preventing relapse, and managing chronic depression, psychotic depression and depression with a coexisting diagnosis of personality disorder. (Website)
  • Moodjuice - Depression Workbook, Recognise whether you may be experiencing symptoms of depression, understand what depression is, what causes it and what keeps it going, and find ways to understand, manage or overcome your depression. (PDF Download)
  • Worksheet - When used correctly, coping skills can reduce the symptoms of depression, and improve well-being. Depending on the coping skill, they can be used during a difficult moment to quell negative thoughts, or consistently every day to gradually improve mood. (PDF Download)
  • The Cycle of Depression - illustrates how the symptoms of depression encourage maladaptive behaviours, which exacerbate stressors, and lead back to worsening symptoms. The concept is made easy to understand with a diagram, summaries of each step in the cycle, and examples. (PDF Download)
  • When you are battling depression might find it challenging to complete the simplest of tasks due to a lack of motivation. Behavioural activation is one intervention that can help to combat this. The first step of behavioural activation is to identify several activities that are both easy and rewarding. A weekly schedule with instructions and examples will ease the process  These will serve as replacements for unhealthy behaviours that may have taken over during a depressive episode. (PDF Download)
  • More coming soon! Got any suggestions? If so, you can "Join The Conversation" at the bottom of this page.








  • My Journey with Depression - Eve's Story - Eve tells her story of experiencing depression and anxiety at university and how coming to an AWARE support group helped her take a step towards better mental health.

  • AWARE Support Group Video - Depression can be an isolating illness making people feel lonely, disconnected and unhappy. People often feel alone when suffering from depression, but if you live in Northern Ireland, an AWARE Support Group could help you. AWARE Support Groups provide an opportunity to meet others with similar experiences in a safe and confidential environment with people who understand the illness.

  • I had a black dog, his name was depression - In collaboration with WHO to mark World Mental Health Day, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the "black dog of depression".

  • What is depression? - Helen M. Farrell - Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world; in the United States, close to ten percent of adults struggle with the disease. But because it’s a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol. Helen M. Farrell examines the symptoms and treatments of depression, and gives some tips for how you might help a friend who is suffering.

  • How Depression Affects The Brain - Yale Medicine Explains - Yale Medicine delves deep into medical consequences of depression and the neurobiology behind the disease.

  • How to get stuff done when you are depressed | Jessica Gimeno | TEDxPilsenWomen - Jessica Gimeno lives with bipolar disorder and wants to expand the discourse around mental health. It's not enough to just receive a diagnosis, she says, people have to learn to live with depression and other mental health issues. In her talk, she shares the techniques she's learned to help her get stuff done while depressed.

  • 5 Realistic Ways to Cope with Depression ft. Depression to Expression - Scott talks about some ways that help him cope with his depression!

  • Yoga For Depression - Yoga With Adriene - Yoga For Depression is a 15 min yoga practice to help balance and restore both the physical and emotional body. Tend to your nervous system through mindful yoga to tend to the brain and body connect in a powerful way. With a focus on the breath, this yoga practice invites you to be kind, be accepting, practice regularly, and heal naturally.

  • Guided Mindfulness Meditation on Depression - 20 minutes - help to cope - This is a guided mindfulness meditation on depression. It is not meant to fight against depression, or hide from it, but to sit and learn to develop a relationship with these feelings. Overcome anxiety and find the possibility for hope, healing, and light that can be found through the darkness. A deep, blissful peace is waiting for you. 

  • Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 - My Journey with Depression - Jordan and Eve tell their stories of depression and anxiety and how coming to an AWARE support group helped them take a step towards better mental health. 

  • My Journey with Depression - Jordan's Story - Jordan tells his story of depression and anxiety and how coming to an AWARE support group helped him take a step towards better mental health. 

  • This could be why you're depressed or anxious | Johann Hari - In a moving talk, journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world -- as well as some exciting emerging solutions. "If you're depressed or anxious, you're not weak and you're not crazy -- you're a human being with unmet needs," Hari says.

  • Learning to Live with Clinical Depression | Angelica Galluzzo | TEDxWesternU - Angelica shares how living with depression has impacted her life. Angelica Galluzzo is a mental health advocate, largely motivated by her own struggles with mental illness.

  • Am I Depressed? - Dr Julie goes through the nine symptoms that can be a sign of depression when five or more are presenting.

  • How Gratitude Can Impact Wellbeing - Gratitude is one of life’s most vitalising ingredients and can enhance nearly all spheres of human experience. The science shows that an effective gratitude practice can have huge positive effects on many aspects of mental and physical health including cardiovascular health, immunity, lowering inflammation, increasing moments of joy, happiness and awe, lowering lifetime incidence of depression and anxiety, and giving us more joy, purpose and meaning in life. 

  • Guided Breathing Meditation for Relaxation - Great for Beginners! - This meditation uses a few different principles to support relaxation. The most important thing is that you enjoy the practice and make it work for you so if it feels best to focus on one of the techniques to begin, then do that.

  • Super Oxygenation Breathing (Wim Hoff Method) Explained! - In this video we explore the benefits of Super Oxygenation Breathing, you may recognise it as the Wim Hof Method, Hyperventilation Breathing or Tummo Breathing in Tibetan Buddhism, all of which are similar.

  • Why You Should Try Breathwork - Breathwork practices can have a profound effect on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s a mode that ticks a lot of boxes and is really worth giving a try, even if you feel hesitant.

  • Breathwork - Try the Physiological Sigh - Explaining the psychological sigh, which is one of the fastest, most effective, scientifically backed, self-directed ways to get our bodies out of the stress response in real time. 

  • Thinking about starting your Counselling Journey? - Are you considering starting therapy? Have you any doubts, questions or concerns about reaching out to a therapist and giving counselling ago to improve your wellbeing or mental health? We understand that taking that first step can be daunting. Here a service user shares his thoughts on beginning that journey and why you should reach out for help if you need it.

  • Controlled breathing - Samaritans - It might sound simple, but controlled breathing can be a useful tool for feeling calmer quickly and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. This technique is easy to memorise and can be practised almost anywhere. Practise this for as long as you need to to feel the benefits.

  • More coming soon! Got any suggestions? If so, you can "Join The Conversation" at the bottom of this page.



Find Help Near You - Counselling & Therapy


There are many support agencies in Northern Ireland who specialise in providing support to support people to live a more fulfilled and content life. Everyone is different and some people may benefit from increasing social interaction, gaining employment, counselling or becoming more active outdoors. Browse our directory to find local organisations to explore and consider reaching out.



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