What is depression?

Depression is an illness where you may feel:

  • Sad or down all the time

  • Tearful

  • Hopeless

  • Guilty

  • Worthless

  • Uninterested in things you used to enjoy


As well as affecting the way you feel, depression can affect your behaviour. You may:

  • Cry alot

  • Go out less

  • Avoid meeting friends or family

  • Have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual

  • Have no appetite or eat more than usual

  • Lack energy


If you have felt a number of these symptoms for 2 weeks or more, you may be suffering from depression.

Depression often develops alongside anxiety.


It is not the same as manic depression, which is another term for bipolar disorder.

Severe depression can lead to thoughts of harming yourself. In some cases, people feel suicidal. This is a health emergency.

Harriet's story

" She couldn’t wash, she couldn’t eat, she couldn’t look after her baby. She didn’t know what was happening. She felt stranded. Now looking back, she can see that she was severely depressed. "

Read more about Harriet's experiences and recovery story here, on the Peer Nation Uganda website

What causes depression?

There is not one clear cause of depression. Often, depression follows a stressful life event such as:

  • Bereavement

  • Divorce

  • Job loss

  • Financial difficulties


Some people are more vulnerable to depression than others. Risk factors may include:

  • Family history of depression 

  • Some medical conditions, such as hypothyrodism or HIV

  • Poor nutrition 

  • Substance misuse

Untreated, an episode of depression can last many months and be highly disabling. Although the first episode is likely to be triggered by a stressful life event, further episodes may occur on their own. This is why it is so important to seek treatment for depression early. 

What can you do about depression?

There are treatments for depression, just like there are treatments for malaria or diabetes.

The first step is to recognise that depression is an illness.


It is not a fault or a weakness in yourself.

The next step is to seek professional help. You may first want to talk to a trusted friend or family member, who can support you. You could show them this website page, to help them understand about depression.

Treatment for depression

Treatment for depression may be through a combination of:

  • Medication

  • Talking therapies

  • Lifestyle interventions

Treatment is important to relieve the symptoms of a depressive episode and to prevent further episodes. Some people may need to take medication for life. Like many other health problems, depression is a chronic illness. There is no shame in taking treatment which supports you to live a fulfilling and productive life.

Harriet's story

" She said to herself, “I know my body, I know myself, I need to take medication ”

Read more about Harriet's experiences and recovery story here, on the Peer Nation Uganda website

Support for mental health challenges including depression is available in Uganda. Please find more information about where to get help here.

Mental health challenges are treatable. Treatment is free in Uganda.