Depression is when a person feels sad, lonely, down, anxious, apathetic, exhausted or stressed for long periods of time.
As well as making you feel unhappy or flat, it can affect your everyday life, making you tired, antisocial, or withdrawn.
Depression can prevent you from doing normal things like going to school, doing your job, seeing friends or looking after your family.
Take action: Being kind to yourself, keeping active and challenging your low mood (for example, by exercising even though you feel tired and low) are all ways you can take action against depression. Get more self help for depression from Mind.
Treatment for depression
Different methods of treatment are available for people who are depressed including exercise, talking therapies and medication. There are also positive steps you can take to look after your own mental health, which can help protect against depression or stop depression becoming worse.
Take action: Find out more about depression from Oxfordshire CAMHS and help yourself or a friend with this page about understanding and coping with depression.
Symptoms of Depression
- feeling sad or anxious most of the time
- not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
- feeling hopeless, tired and not having any energy
Depression can be a reaction to stresses such as bereavement, bullying, or family troubles. But it can also happen without any cause. If someone in your family has depression, or has had it in the past, then you may be more likely to get it too.
Most people recover from depression. Some people benefit from long-term treatment.
Take action: Just like looking after your physical health, by keeping fit, eating well, and setting healthy habits, you can also look after your mental health through using the five ways to wellbeing. These give you five actions to do every day that help your mental health. They are: connect (talk to people), be active (go outside and do something physical), take notice (observe, take a photo, be absorbed in something), keep learning (this can be at school, or just reading or practising a new skill) and give (help someone else). Looking after your mental wellbeing can make you more resilient.
Lots of creative, happy and successful people have at one time or another had depression. Through effective self care and treatment they have taken the steps they need to manage, cure or improve their depression.
In collaboration with the WHO to mark World Mental Health Day, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the "black dog of depression".
When you are feeling depressed, it is especially important to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. This includes things like:
- Getting enough sleep and eating regular, nutritious meals
- Dressing well and taking care of your appearance
- Get fresh air, exercise, socialise, and do new things
Being depressed can make it very hard to do these things. You may feel too tired, or like you don't deserve nice things, or that doing them will make you feel worse.
Many people who are depressed have these feelings. But it is important to keep doing things that will help.
Instant help: Do you feel like you have been frozen by depression, or like everything you think of doing is a bad idea? Accept the feeling (panic, anxiety, misery). Calm your mind (count ten slow breaths). Take action do something (anything) positive. You can find lots more worksheets and practical help on Students Against Depression.
You can make great progress helping yourself. But many people find it helps to talk to someone.
- Talk to your parents, siblings, or someone in the family you trust
- Talk to a teacher or the school health nurse
- Talk to a friend - but be careful to pick someone calm, helpful and trustworthy
If you feel things are overwhelming or that talking is not helping, more help is available.
- Make an appointment to talk to your GP (doctor)
- You can talk to your school or college health nurse
- You can call Childline on 0800 11 11
Talking to other people is a great idea, but some people are more helpful than others. Some people may even make you feel worse. When people are depressed they may find that they spend too much time with other people who make them feel unhappy.
Crucial: Your school or college nurse and the school and college nursing service can provide 1:1 support, advice, somewhere to chat and signposting to other services. They are available all year round, not just during school term. Call 07312 263084 or email SHN.firstname.lastname@example.org
A teenage problem?
In teenage years there are changes to the mind and body that make it harder to control emotions and which make emotions more intense. You are more impulsive, because the parts of the brain that deal with future planning develop late. This means young people are more at risk from serious reactions to being unhappy like self-harm and suicide.
If you get so unhappy that you are starting to have desperate, panicked or confused thoughts, then you need to get help right away. Tell an adult you trust or your school health nurse.
If you need to talk to a helpline, all these can help:
- Papyrus Mon-Fri: 10am-10pm, weekends: 2pm-10pm & bank holidays: 2pm-5pm Hopeline tel: 0800 068 41 41 text 07786 209 697 email email@example.com
- Childline 24/7 0800 1111
- Young Minds 9.30 to 4.00pm, Mon- Fri Parents helpline: 0808 802 5544
- CALM 7 days a week, 5pm to midnight 0800 58 58 58
You may also find it helpful to look at the Self Harm Page.