Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Depression is a serious mental health condition that interferes with your ability to function from day to day, and may last for many years if left untreated.

Depression is not the same as sadness. While both conditions are defined by periods of sadness, gloominess, or low mood, symptoms of depression are much more severe.

Most people go through periods of feeling low, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can ‘snap out of’.

The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.

Talking therapies, such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), are often used for mild depression that isn’t improving or moderate.

A summary of a few classic signs of depression:

  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities
  • Fear that something awful will occur
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Difficulties getting to sleep or excessive sleep
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem
  • Frequent thoughts of planned or unplanned suicide
  • Difficulties in thinking/concentrating and/or indecisiveness

Our Approach

Our Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach focuses on helping people suffering from depression to work directly on changing their deep-seated automatic coping mechanisms and behaviour, or maladaptation (a trait that is, or has become more harmful than helpful). This is a protective way to encourage the person to integrate themselves through a practical step by step process back into engaging in life.

CBT is not just about adhering to systematic counselling techniques over a series of sessions, but also about the therapist showing empathy and sensitivity to the client and to be able to be flexible in the way in which they are applied. People’s behaviours and emotions are influenced by their perception of events.


Anxiety is an emotion which usually involves an element of worry and fear. It is really a state of mind, but can affect our thoughts and behaviour.

What is important to recognise is that anxiety is normal and exists due to a set of bodily functions that have existed in us from our ‘cave-man’ days. Back then we were equipped with an internal alarm system designed to protect us from the dangers surrounding us in the wild. This system would make us hyper-alert by giving us a boost of adrenaline that would increase the heart rate and boost the amount of oxygen going to our limbs, so that we were better able to fight or run from danger. This is what is known as the “fight or flight” response.

Although anxiety can be a very unpleasant feeling, the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling that many associate with anxiety, is the mechanism ‘kicking’ in. But instead of being used to avoid immediate danger, it is often wrongly and inappropriately activated in a person during normal, every day situations, when stress has built up, often unknowingly.

A summary of some of the symptoms of anxiety:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Shaking
  • Palpitations
  • Thinking that you may lose control – “racing thoughts”
  • Thinking that you might die (an example may be claustrophobia – being stuck in a lift)
  • Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you
  • Thinking that you may have a heart attack or faint

The most common thing that most people do is avoid the situation that is/or has made them anxious in the first place. Although avoiding an anxiety provoking situation produces immediate relief from the anxiety, it is only a short-term solution. This means that whilst it may seem like avoiding the situation is the best thing to do at the time, the anxiety often returns the next time that you face the situation. Therefore, avoiding it, will only psychologically reinforce the message that there is danger.

Our Approach

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will help you to notice your physical symptoms and reactions and the intensity of the emotions you feel. We then look at your unhelpful thoughts and images. For example, “What went through your mind”, “What disturbed you”, “What is the worst thing that could happen”.

Then we try and see if there is alternative thought and more balanced perspective. For example, “What would someone else say about the situation”, “Is there another way of looking at it”, “What advice would I give to someone else in this situation”. Finally, we look at what you could do that works, is helpful and has the best outcome.

Please note that Take A Step Counselling Service is not an emergency service.

Emergency Contacts:

If you are feeling distressed or suicidal, there are services available to help you immediately. If you feel at risk of harm to yourself, or if you are concerned about someone else, please go to your nearest hospital or call the emergency services on 999.

Other contacts:

General Practitioner: Request an emergency appointment. If you are not registered with a doctor in your area, you can attend your nearest NHS Walk-in Centre or contact the NHS Out of Hours Medical Service on 111, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

Samaritans: Help for suicidal thoughts –

If you’re feeling like you want to die, it’s important to tell someone.

Help and support is available right now if you need it. You don’t have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.

Phone a helpline.

These FREE helplines are there to help when you’re feeling down or desperate. Call 116 123.

Take A Step is a member of HiCLG