We understand that depression can be a difficult topic. On this page, you’ll find information and support about the causes and symptoms of depression, what it means for your pharmacy career and where you can find support.

This page aims to provide information and support about depression whilst working or studying in pharmacy. It mentions topics which may be triggering for some people. 

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What is depression? 

Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Depression is a mental health condition that causes people to have persistently low mood or loss of interest or enjoyment in things.  

There are different types of depression, including: 

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Antenatal Depression
  • Postnatal Depression
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Depression can also range from ‘less severe’ to ‘more severe’ depending on the symptoms.  

What are the symptoms? 

People experience depression in a multitude of different ways, and the symptoms can be emotional, psychological, physical or all three. Having depression is more than just having a bad day; it is prolonged experience of common symptoms, such as: 

  • Loss of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad or anxious most or all of the time
  • Feelings of low self-worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Thoughts about dying, suicide or self-harm
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of or disturbed sleep
  • Lack of or changes to appetite
  • Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment.

Who is affected? 

Depression is a common mental health condition which can affect anyone. According to the Office for National Statistics, 10% of adults in Great Britain were suffering from moderate or severe depressive symptoms in 2019. This percentage rose significantly during the pandemic and remains high as the country faces the current cost-of-living crisis.  

Research suggests that there are many different causes of depression, including genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. People who have lived through trauma, abuse, severe loss or other difficult events are more likely to develop depression. Problems at university and work can also result in depression, and poor sleep, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise can make us more vulnerable to depression.  

What does it mean for my studies or career in pharmacy? 

At Pharmacist Support, we understand that the high pressures faced by the profession are having an adverse effect on our pharmacy family’s mental health and wellbeing. In our 2023 Workforce Wellbeing Survey (held jointly with the RPS), 35% of respondents reported that their mental health had been poor/very poor over the previous 12 months. In addition to this, 60% of respondents shared that they had considered leaving their current role or the pharmacy profession in the past year due to the impact work/study was having on their mental health and wellbeing. 

It is possible to study or practice pharmacy with diagnosed or undiagnosed depression. However, it’s necessary to recognise that pharmacy can often be a high-pressured environment to study or work in, which can affect or exacerbate your mental health. If you’re a pharmacy student, trainee or pharmacist, it’s important to keep your mental health and wellbeing as a priority.  

If you’re a pharmacy student, trainee or pharmacist, it’s important to keep your mental health and wellbeing as a priority.

We understand that depression can be a difficult topic. On this page, you’ll find information and support about the causes and symptoms of depression, what it means for your pharmacy career and where you can find support.

Do students and/or pharmacists need to declare any mental health issues? 

People who are planning to start an MPharm degree will be expected to undergo a medical fitness assessment and a Disclosure and Barring check at the start of their degree. All MPharm students must abide by the GPhC professional standards, so this includes declaring any medical conditions prior to beginning the MPharm.   

Prior to joining the register as a pharmacist, the GPhC requires applicants to submit a health declaration. Mental health issues are dealt with in the same way as physical health issues and the GPhC is only concerned when an issue could potentially be a risk to patients. If people do declare a health issue, this would not necessarily lead to restrictions on how a pharmacist will practice. Most important is that registrants are aware of their condition and that it is under control. If in doubt, legal advice should be taken prior to making any decision about declaring a health condition. The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is free for students and trainees to join and may be able to give advice. 

If a condition is under control and being well managed, then there wouldn’t be any fitness to practise considerations. It would only become a fitness to practise issue if someone suddenly changed how they managed their condition, for example, by stopping taking the medication they need to keep themselves safe. 

What support should employers and universities offer?  

As with all health conditions, universities and employers are legally obliged to consider any reasonable adjustments that someone may request and then work to best meet someone’s needs. Any legal obligation to provide specific support for depression would depend on whether the depression a person experiences could be considered a disability. You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have ‘a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities’. If a person’s depression falls within this description, then universities and employers are legally obliged to ensure the person is not discriminated against. OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education) has more info on supporting disabled students and ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has info on supporting disabled people at work. 

You can also find out more on our dedicated page for disability at work and university.  

Read more about disability at work and university now

Employees must follow minimum workplace requirements (such as holiday entitlement and maternity pay) and some employers offer additional wellbeing help and support as part of their employee benefits.  

All universities offer services such as counselling for their students. Many also offer wellbeing services such as apps and tools. Levels of services will vary depending on the university and we would recommend people who are planning to start an MPharm programme to look very carefully at what each pharmacy school offers before choosing the one they feel would support them the most. In addition, there are organisations that help students manage their health and wellbeing, such as Student Minds, UCAS and Office for Students 

Treatment for depression 

Treatment for depression is available and has the potential to very positively impact someone’s quality of life. Examples of treatments include self-help, lifestyle changes, talking therapies, medication, peer support, creative therapies, and other alternative therapies. For further information on all the current treatments recommended by the NHS, see the NHS website 

Help from Pharmacist Support 

At Pharmacist Support, the wellbeing of our pharmacy family is our utmost priority, and all of our confidential services are designed to ensure you feel well-supported.  


We provide direct psychological support for people in our pharmacy family who are experiencing mental health issues. You can access counselling sessions via phone, Zoom or for those within travelling distance to Altrincham, face to face. 

Find out more about Counselling

Financial Assistance 

As the profession’s charity, we understand that anyone can be affected by financial difficulties, and this can affect or exacerbate depressive symptoms. To support financial wellbeing, we offer a range of support to pharmacists and their families, former pharmacists, trainees, and students who are facing financial difficulties due to unexpected hardship.  

Find out more about Financial Assistance

Specialist Advice 

In addition to Financial Assistance, we can refer you for free and confidential debt advice. A specially trained Citizens Advice adviser will help you, for example, to prepare a financial statement or reschedule payments to creditors. 

Find out more about Specialist Advice

Other organisations who can support with depression 

If you are experiencing depression, your GP will be able to help you. The mental health charity, Mind, has put together a useful guide on how you can talk to your GP about your mental health. There are also many other national and local organisations across Great Britain who you can turn to, including: 


The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide. You can talk to CALM about any mental health difficulties you are facing, and there is a plethora of support materials on their website. CALM provides free and confidential support via their helpline, Whatsapp or live chat, which are open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year. 

The Samaritans 

The Samaritans offer free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day. You can contact them for free on 116 123 or email Find out more about The Samaritans on their website. 


Mind provides advice and support to anybody who is living with a mental health condition. The services it offers include talking therapies and peer support. Call their helpline on 0300 123 3393 or contact them via live chat. For further information, see the Mindwebsite.  

Emergency mental health support 

If you are having suicidal thoughts or require urgent mental health assistance, we recommend you contact the Samaritans, your GP or visit your local A&E department.  

For further information on mental health support options see our Additional mental health and wellbeing support webpage

Supporting colleagues with their mental health 

Managers and leaders play a crucial role in their team’s mental health and wellbeing. Our Embracing a Workplace Wellbeing Culture training course can provide you with the right tools and strategies to help you understand mental health in the workplace and how you can affect positive change.  

Find out more now

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Aamer Safdar opens up about his own work related stress and anxiety and his journey through the tough times to build himself back up.

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Mental health and wellbeing

Our mission is to champion the wellbeing of our pharmacy family. On these pages you will find guidance and advice on how you can stay mentally healthy and boost your wellbeing.

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If you would benefit from professional psychological support, we offer a confidential counselling service. You can access counselling sessions via phone, Zoom or for those within travelling distance to Altrincham, face to face.