Discover the signs and symptoms of depression, plus the best treatment options available, with this expert advice from Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots…

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A man in a suit and tie standing in front of a pharmacy counter

Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots

What is depression?

Unlike many physical illnesses, mental health issues cannot always be seen. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

It’s totally normal for people to go through periods of feeling down. But if the feelings are interfering with your life and won’t go away after a couple of weeks, then it could be a sign of depression.

Depression can affect people differently, but the symptoms are often the same. It’s important to speak to your GP if youve noticed changes in the way you’re thinking or feeling, and you’re worried about your mental health.  

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What are the signs of depression?

Clinical depression is a continual feeling of sadness for weeks or months at a time, which can affect your work, social and family life.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. They can include feeling hopeless and helpless, having low self-esteem, feeling guilt-ridden, having no motivation or interest in things.

They can also include feeling anxious or worried, having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself, as well as avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities.

There can be physical symptoms, too, including feeling constantly tired, moving or speaking more slowly than usual. Disturbed sleep, having no appetite or reduced sex drive, as well as various unexplained aches and pains are other signs.

Constipation, lack of energy and changes in weight can also be physical symptoms.  

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How can you treat depression?

A combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine can help for depression. Getting a treatment plan from a GP will depend on whether you have mild, moderate or severe depression.

Lifestyle changes such as exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet, cutting down on alcohol and giving up smoking can help.

Sharing your experiences with others and talking about how you are feeling can also make a big difference. Talking therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be used for mild or moderate depression.  

Many people struggle taking that first step to getting professional help. That’s because they don’t know where to turn to first or whether their mental health concerns should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Anyone who is worried should see their local pharmacist. They can listen to their concerns and signpost to other appropriate healthcare services that may be helpful. Your GP is also there to help with any mental health concerns.

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Boots recently launched a collection of private on-demand digital mental health services that offer patients a range of tools and support that they can access quickly and conveniently. The help, advice and support that can now be found at includes talking therapy and Boots Online Doctor Depression & Anxiety Treatment*, which offers a GP consultation followed by a tailored treatment and support plan and, if appropriate, prescription medicine.  

*Treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.  

For ‘convenient care without the hassle’, visit