Depression can affect anyone at any stage in their lives regardless of age, gender, race or religion. It has no single cause and often involves the interaction of many factors.
What is depression?
We all feel down or fed-up at times but these feelings don't usually last and are a normal response to problems or difficulties in our lives. However, when they don't go away, are more than we can cope with and our ability to carry out our work and have satisfying personal relationships is affected, it may be depression.
What helps for depression?
The first, most important thing to do is TALK about it no matter how hard.
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Tell someone who can help…
Tell someone who can help, an adult that you trust and who won’t judge you. Talk with your friends; they may understand more than you think. If you feel you really can’t talk to someone face-to-face, phone Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. Lifeline is a telephone help and counselling service for anyone in distress or despair. It is available 24/7 and is even free from mobiles!
Allow time for fun…
Allow time for fun and relaxation. This helps us feel better and increases our confidence. Doing something we enjoy probably means we’re good at it and achieving something boosts our self-esteem.
Learn the facts…
Learn the facts. You’ve taken the first step by reading this factsheet. See your GP. He/she will decide what help or treatment is right for you. Getting practical help with problems and making changes to your lifestyle may be enough, or some sort of talking treatment or counselling might help. If you’re feeling very low, you may need to take anti-depressants. These don’t always work for under-eighteens or might make you feel a bit worse before you start to feel better. When they do work, they work well but your GP will want to see you regularly while you are taking them.
Keep as active and busy as possible. Physical exercise helps lift our mood, reduces stress and anxiety, improves physical health, and gives us more energy. Doing things can help us forget our worries for a while and change our mood.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is about how healthy your mind is. It is about your thoughts, moods and how you deal with the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of life. Good mental health doesn’t mean you’re in a good mood all the time, that’s impossible. It means you enjoy good times, cope with bad times and bounce back afterwards.
It’s normal to have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ moods and these change all the time, depending on what’s happening to you.
You’re probably in a good mood when your team wins or you’re going out with friends, and feel happy and excited. You might be in a bad mood when you have too much homework or break up with your boy/girlfriend, and feel sad or angry. Even the bad moods don’t usually last long but this all depends on what you think about the situation and also what you do about it (your behaviour).
What should I do if I am feeling low or worried about my mental health?
You might want to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Most likely, by talking to people you trust, getting the right support and trying out some of the self-help tips, you will get through difficult times and feel better again.
However, if the moods are lasting a long time (a few weeks or more), are more than you can cope with, or affect your daily activities and relationships, it might be depression. We highly recommend you visit your GP or school counsellor if your moods or feelings are more than you can cope with.
People with depression will often say the following,
“At the minute I feel lost, lonely and can’t see that changing for me. I feel like I’m drifting, I drifted through my exams and I’m still drifting.”
“I didn’t feel right... I was so sad all the time. I found school really difficult. It was difficult to talk to people and I lost my confidence."