Stress & Depression


Most of the time stress is good for you. It keeps you alert, motivated and ready to respond to danger. If you have ever faced a work deadline or competed in a sport, stress helps the body to respond effectively. Yet too much stress, or chronic stress might lead to major depression in certain people.

You can suffer from too much stress due to the ups and downs of life, it is not necessarily something you will have for life. If you feel it is more of a permanent problem, you should always go and see your GP. (Doctor) for advice and help.

There are close links between being in debt and experiencing mental health problems, if you are in this situation, please visit our web page 'Debt and Mental Health'.

Get urgent help

You should see your GP (Doctor) if you experience the following:

  • you have been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks

  • your anxiety is affecting your daily life

Please see the helpful contacts at the end of this page for who to call.

Low mood or Depression?

A low mood will usually last a few days or weeks.

A general low mood can include:

Making some small changes in your life, such as resolving a difficult situation, talking about your problems or getting more sleep, can usually improve your mood. A low mood that doesn't go away can be a sign of depression.

Symptoms of depression can include the following:

  • low mood lasting 2 weeks or more

  • not getting any enjoyment out of life

  • feeling hopeless

  • feeling tired or lacking energy

  • not being able to concentrate on everyday things like reading the paper or watching television

  • comfort eating or losing your appetite

  • sleeping more than usual or being unable to sleep

  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming yourself

Visit the NHS website to read more about the symptoms of depression.

Depression can also come on at specific points in your life, such as the winter months (seasonal affective disorder, or SAD) and after the birth of a child (postnatal depression).

Visit the NHS website to check your mood using this simple mood self-assessment quiz and get advice on what might help.

Your body during Stress and Depression

If you suffer a long period of stress, it can lead to increased hormone levels such as cortisol, the "stress hormone," and reduced serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, which has been linked to depression.

When these chemical systems are working normally, they keep your biological processes stable, like sleep, appetite, energy, and sex drive, and give you normal moods and emotions. If the stress response is not working properly after a difficult situation has passed, it can lead to depression in a certain group of people.

Stress and depression is not something to feel embarrassed or ashamed about, and you should not delay getting all the help you can to make you better.

What help is available?

If you are diagnosed with depression, your GP will discuss all of the available treatment options with you, including self-help, talking therapies and antidepressants.


Whether you have depression or you are feeling down, it could be worth trying some self-help techniques.

Life changes, such as getting a regular good night's sleep, keeping to a healthy diet, reducing your alcohol intake and getting regular exercise, can help you feel more in control and more able to cope.

Self-help techniques can include activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and learning ways to think about problems differently.

Visit the NHS website to find out more about self-help books and apps and online tools for mental health can be very effective.

If your GP has prescribed antidepressants, it is important that you carry on taking them.

Talking therapies

There are lots of different types of talking therapies available. To help you decide which one would most suit you, talk to your GP or visit the NHS website to read about the different types of talking therapies.

Visit the NHS website to refer yourself directly to your local psychological therapies service.


Antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression. There are several types available.

If your GP prescribes you antidepressants, they will discuss the different types and which one would suit you best.

Visit the NHS website to learn more about antidepressants.

When to seek help immediately

If you start to feel like your life is not worth living or you want to harm yourself, get help straight away.

Either see your GP or call NHS 111. You can also call Samaritans on 116 123 for 24-hour confidential, non-judgemental emotional support.

Mental Health Helplines

Mental Health

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

T: 03444 775 774 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5.30pm)

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.


CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.

T: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)

Men's Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.


Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

T: 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)

No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.

T: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm)

OCD Action

Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.

T: 0845 390 6232 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5pm)


A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

T: 0845 120 3778 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm)


Young suicide prevention society.

T: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon to Fri,10am to 5pm & 7 to 10pm. Weekends 2 to 5pm)

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

T: 0300 5000 927 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm)


Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

T: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)


Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.

SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30 to 10.30pm)

Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most:

Peer support forum:



Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

Phone: Parents' helpline: 0808 802 5544 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm)

Abuse (child, sexual, domestic violence)


Children's charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.

T: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)

T: 0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)


Advice on dealing with domestic violence.

T: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)

Addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling)

Alcoholics Anonymous

T: 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline)

Gamblers Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

T: 0300 999 1212 (daily 10am to midnight)


Alzheimer's Society

Provides information on dementia, including factsheets and helplines.

T: 0300 222 1122 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm. Weekends, 10am to 4pm)


Cruse Bereavement Care

T: 0844 477 9400 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm)

Crime victims

Rape Crisis

To find your local services phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12 to 2.30pm, 7 to 9.30pm)

Victim Support

T: 0808 168 9111 (24-hour helpline)

Eating disorders


T: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)


Learning disabilities


Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.

T: 0808 808 1111 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm)


Family Lives

Advice on all aspects of parenting including dealing with bullying.

T: 0808 800 2222 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 9pm. Sat to Sun, 10am to 3pm)



The UK's largest provider of relationship support.