Five years ago, Shirley Alderton, 27, a teacher from Reading was diagnosed with depression. She said: “I had been having trouble sleeping for some time. It was mainly not being able to switch off at night while my brain kept going over 'what ifs'.
I had recently broken up with my boyfriend of just under two years and I felt pretty miserable. I was crying most days and I was really lethargic. I was getting quite reclusive as well and stopped going out with my friends as much. When I did I was drinking quite excessively.”
Shirley’s case is not unusual. The first port of call for anyone who thinks they may have depression is their local GP.
The doctor will assess the person based on a set of criteria that includes the severity and presence of sadness, low mood and anhedonia, which means a loss of interest and pleasure in doing things.
Depression is more likely to be diagnosed when one or more of these symptoms has been present in the last two weeks.