Information for the public

The condition

The condition

Depression is common. It causes feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, and guilt or low self‑worth, as well as tiredness, lack of interest in life and difficulty concentrating. People with severe depression may be unable to eat or sleep, or to take part in social activities, may become completely withdrawn and may have suicidal thoughts. The condition can last from weeks to years, and can recur.

Treatments for depression include psychological (talking) therapies and antidepressant medicines. In severe depression that has not improved with other treatments, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes used. ECT is used with a general anaesthetic. It involves applying an electric current to the brain so strong that it causes seizures (fits) and sometimes memory loss.

NICE has looked at using transcranial magnetic stimulation as another treatment option that is safer and doesn't need to be done under anaesthetic. NHS Choices ( and NICE's information for the public about depression may be good places to find out more.

  • Information Standard