Published on Friday, 09 February 2018

Posted in News

Depression is a serious illness that affects thousands of people in Northern Ireland. AWARE is the depression charity for Northern Ireland and is here to offer support.

If you are in distress or despair call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans on 116 123.

Symptoms of Depression

We recommend that if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks that you seek urgent help from your GP.

These symptoms include:

- An unusually sad mood that doesn’t go away

- Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable

- Tiredness and lack of energy

In addition, people who are depressed can have a range of other symptoms such as;

- Loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem

- Feeling guilty when they are not really at fault

- Wishing they were dead

- Difficulty making decisions and concentrating

- Moving more slowly or becoming agitated and unable to settle

- Having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

- Loss of interest in food or eating more than usual, leading to weight loss or weight gain.

It is important to visit your GP if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

The number and severity of symptoms experienced will determine whether the depression is diagnosed as mild, moderate or severe. There are different types of depression and there may be different terms used to describe specific types of depression. Find out more


If you think you might be depressed you should see your GP as soon as possible. Earlier treatment leads to a quicker and better recovery. The GP can also rule out any other medical cause for your symptoms and will decide on suitable treatment depending on the severity of symptoms.

Talking therapies (psychotherapies)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been proven to be very effective for mild/moderate depression and in preventing relapse. It works on the basis that if we change our unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviour it will improve how we feel.


Counselling can be effective where there appears to be some underlying reasons or circumstances which may have contributed to the onset of depression or is prolonging the illness. To find a list of Counsellors in your area, you can check out the website 


Anti-depressants are the most commonly prescribed and effective treatments for moderate/severe depression. It is important, however, to take them exactly as prescribed and only to stop taking them as and when advised by your GP. They are not addictive, but stopping them suddenly or too soon may cause a relapse. They work by boosting certain brain chemicals that affect mood.

There are other things you can do to look after your mental health including eating healthy meals and exercising more and don’t forget how important it is to avoid alcohol if you are suffering from depression or on medication for the treatment of depression. Find out more.

AWARE offers:

Free Support groups across Northern Ireland – for people affected by depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, including their relatives and carers. The groups are facilitated by highly trained volunteers. The groups are an opportunity to meet with others who have similar experiences to discuss how they are feeling and support each other to move forward. Find out more.

Online support group – offered weekly to people who are unable or who don’t feel ready or able to access our face-to-face support groups and delivered through the means of a Skype video call. Find out more.

Support email service – for individuals who are seeking support and information to cope with, manage or recover from depression, anxiety and related conditions. Sometimes it can feel too difficult to pick up the phone and talk with someone, so writing might be an easier option for some people. Email We aim to answer all queries within 24 hours. Find out more.

Wellbeing programmes – AWARE offer a number of wellbeing programmes into communities, schools, colleges and workplace settings across Northern Ireland. Programmes offered are Mood Matters for young people, adults and older people; Mental Health First Aid and Living Life to the Full. Find out more.

Mindfulness programmes - Mindfulness is a form of meditation which can help you develop skills and techniques to cope with the daily challenges a busy life can bring such as stress and anxiety. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment –and to what's happening in your body, your mind and or your surroundings. Various courses are offered such as an evening session running for six weeks, condensed courses for professionals and a self-compassion course. There are also programmes for the workplace and primary schools. Find out more.

Fundraising and volunteering opportunities – if you’d like to get involved and help us raise money for AWARE we’d love to hear from you! You can take part in one of our fundraising events or fundraise at school or in work. There are a number of ways you can get involved. Your time and donations enable AWARE to continue to grow and sustain our services across Northern Ireland. Find out more.