What is depression?

Feeling sad is a normal reaction to experiences that are stressful or upsetting. However, when these feelings go on and on, take over your usual self and interfere with your whole life, it can become an illness. This illness is called ‘depression’.

A young person with depression may experience major problems not only with how they feel, but also with how they behave. This may cause difficulties at home and at school, as well as in relationships with family and friends. 

How do I know if I have depression?

Some of the symptoms you are suffering from depression include:

  • being moody and irritable - easily upset, ‘ratty’ or tearful

  • becoming withdrawn - avoiding friends, family and regular activities

  • feeling guilty or bad, being self-critical and self-blaming - hating yourself

  • feeling unhappy, miserable and lonely a lot of the time

  • feeling hopeless and wanting to die

  • finding it difficult to concentrate

  • not looking after your personal appearance

  • changes in sleep pattern: sleeping too little or too much

  • feeling tired

  • not interested in eating, eating little or too much

  • suffering aches and pains, such as headaches or stomach-aches

  • feeling you are not good looking

If you have all or most of these signs and have had them over a long period of time, it may mean that you are depressed. You may find it very difficult to talk about how you are feeling.

What causes depression?

There is no specific cause for depression. It is usually caused by a mixture of things, rather than any one thing alone such as:

  • Personal experiences can be a trigger. These include family breakdown, the death or loss of someone you love, neglect, abuse, bullying and physical illness.

  • Depression can start if too many changes happen in your life too quickly.

  • You are more likely to suffer from depression if you are under a lot of stress, have no one to share your worries with.

  • Depression may run in families and can be more common if you already suffer from physical illness or difficulties.

  • Depression seems to be linked with chemical changes in the part of brain that controls mood.


What can I do if I am feeling low?


You can try a few things to see if it helps you feel better.


Simply talking to someone you trust, and who you feel understands, can lighten the burden. It can also make it easier to work out practical solutions to problems.


For example, if you feel unable to do your homework, letting your family and teachers know can be helpful for you to get some support to complete your work.


Here are some things to try:

  • talk to someone whom you trust and can help

  • try to do some physical activity and eat healthy food

  • try to keep yourself occupied by doing activities, even if you feel you do not really enjoy them

  • try not to stay all alone in your room, especially during the day

  • don't overstress yourself and allow for fun and leisure time.   

Where can I get help?

Your GP, or sometimes school nurse, will be able to advise you about what help is available and to arrange a referral to the local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).

They will see you and your family and discuss what is the right treatment for you.

Your GP or another professional can refer you to your local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) or adult mental health service.

This information is provided by the Royal College of Psychiatrist, learn more about Depression on their website.