How to recognise the symptoms of depression and seek help

Depression affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its widespread impact, it’s challenging to recognise the symptoms of depression, as they often manifest differently in individuals.


However, early identification of depression symptoms is crucial for seeking appropriate help and support. This article serves as a comprehensive guide, shedding light on the common signs of depression, and offering valuable insights into how to seek assistance effectively. Whether you're personally grappling with depression or seeking information to support a loved one, understanding the symptoms and knowing where to turn for help can make a significant difference in navigating this challenging journey towards mental well-being.

Signs of depression

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a publication that provides standard criteria for the classification and diagnosis of mental conditions. Widely used by mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers, it is a reference for diagnosing and treating individuals with mental health conditions. There are many forms of depression listed in the DSM, and the criteria for a major depressive episode diagnosis are as follows. 

At least five of the following symptoms present in a two-week period, with at least one of the symptoms of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure:

  • Depressed mood nearly every day for most of the day. Examples of a depressed mood are feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness. 
  • Noticeably reduced interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Notable and unexpected weight loss or weight gain, or change in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Fidgeting more than usual or the opposite, spending more time sedentary than usual.
  • Tiredness or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Trouble concentrating, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurring thoughts of death and or suicidal ideation with or without a specific plan.

Although it’s common to notice your own change in feelings, the criteria still stand if someone else notices your symptoms. Whether it’s a friend or family member that recommends you get help, or you seek it out for yourself, it’s imperative you do. 

If you have the means, an internet search will help you find charities in your area. If this is a struggle for you, please ask someone to help you look. Many charities offer online or in-person support groups. Your GP can prescribe medication and offer you some therapy sessions. There is a limit on the free support you can receive. Therefore, paying for help privately eliminates any time limits and gives you the option to return to the therapist at any point in the future. Understandably, this is not possible for everyone, and if this is the case for you, the GP will help.   

Support for depression

In an ideal world, you’ll surround yourself with a network of support that includes your mental, physical and social well-being. Here are some ways to do that.


There isn’t a therapeutic modality that can fix depression, but there are many that will help you through it. Therapy will provide you with tools that will help you move into a brighter place.

Hypnotherapy is a form of talking therapy, in which hypnosis, suggestion, therapeutic techniques and talking combine to create a powerful therapeutic modality. Hypnosis is the same state of mind as meditation. Many people feel relaxed in hypnosis because their brain is less focused on external stimuli. You’ll notice a stronger sense of focus and a clearer mind. When practised regularly, hypnosis is a wonderful way to feel in control of your thoughts and behaviours. You’ll also recover a strength of mind, which you can use to overwrite some depressive thinking.

Depression makes you want to retreat into yourself and keep away from the world. However, this exasperates the feelings of depression. When you use the strength of your own mind to get up, get out, and do things you used to enjoy, it will help stop the vicious circle and bring back feelings of pleasure.


Exercise is so important for mental well-being. Exercise doesn’t need to be formal; walking through the forest or enjoying the outdoors in other ways will provide you with a daily dose of healing exercise. Formal exercise will help you greatly. Lack of motivation often inhibits exercise. If you utilise the power of hypnosis or meditation to find your determination, the only decision you need to make is where and how you’ll start your exercise.

The options are vast. A personal trainer will guide you through an exercise programme. If money and time are of no concern, this is something you can do a few times a week. Alternatively, you can have a session with a personal trainer and ask them to write you a plan that you can follow alone. Gym memberships vary, most council sports centres offer affordable gym membership. If you don’t feel a gym is for you, but want guidance, you can seek private classes in local village halls or parks.

If you fear exercising in front of other people, you can find many options online that you can use in the privacy of your own home. There are free options on YouTube and paid subscriptions on many websites. Exercising in a group will also give you a social connection, which is healing too.


Poor nutrition can cause depression, although good enough nutrition isn’t always the answer to the problem; it does make a difference. A nutritional therapist will speak to you about your current diet and give you advice on what you can change to improve the nutritional content of what you put into your body. They can also check for deficiencies and advise on nutritional supplementation.

The internet is the source of all knowledge, and you’ll find huge amounts of nutritional advice, but there are many schools of thought. It easily becomes confusing when you read conflicting opinions, none of which are personal to you. However, there are some reputable people, such as Dr Rangan Chatterjee, whose guidance focuses on what you give your body rather than what you restrict and is fairly simple. 

When you struggle with depression, it’s hard to find the motivation to do anything. It is helpful to ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable and check in with you daily to encourage and support you with the different plans you make, such as eating well and exercising daily. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham GU9 & GU10
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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