Depression is a mental health difficulty that involves persistent low mood (continuing for a long time). It impacts on the way people feel, think and behave. Depression can happen as a reaction to difficult experiences such as bullying, bereavement or family relationship difficulties. It can also happen without any obvious trigger or reason.
People with depression can feel a range of emotions including sadness, stress, hopelessness, loneliness, irritability (anger), emptiness or numbness. People with depression often have negative thoughts about themselves, other people, the future or life in general. It can be hard to carry out usual routines and tasks including self-care (showering/ brushing your teeth), eating and sleeping.
People with depression often stop enjoying activities or seeing friends as they can feel tired and have no energy or motivation. People with severe depression, and/or depression that has been going on for a long time, sometimes have thoughts or urges to harm themselves or to end their lives. It is important to tell someone so that a safety plan that supports the person not to act on these thoughts can be put in place.
Depression isn’t something people can ‘snap out of’ or simply ‘cheer up’ from. It’s a medical condition that can affect many aspects of a person’s life if not treated. The good news is that depression is treatable and people can recover.
It is important to tell someone how you are feeling so that you are not alone. You could talk to a parent/ carer, teacher, health professional (school nurse or your GP). This is particularly important if you are having thoughts or urges to harm yourself or end your life.
Following a basic daily routine and making sure that you still do the activities you need to do and do some other activities that you used to enjoy but have perhaps stopped doing because you are feeling depressed. Plan activities for the morning, afternoon and evening and try to stick to these even if you do not feel like it. Avoiding or withdrawing from activity is known to lower mood so make sure that you see friends, go to school/ college, do things you enjoy (or used to).
Look after yourself; eat well, sleep, get some fresh air daily, do exercise and avoid self-medication (for example using alcohol, drugs or caffeine).
This service provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, you can text YM to 85258.
They will listen to you and help you think through how you’re feeling, and will aim to help you take the next steps towards feeling better.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
All young people will feel low in mood from time to time. Here’s a guide to help you know how best to support your young person if they are experience symptoms of low mood or depression. This is not an exhaustive list; young people will experience other types of mood issue and symptoms which may not be included on this guide
Coping / needs support; These are experiences that most young people will have from time to time.
Type and nature of mood issue
It is common for children and young people to experience episodes of feeling sad, low or down as they develop through childhood and adolescence. The typical mood issues children and young people experience tend to be situation specific, short term and can be managed with the love and support of parents/ carers. Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person to feel down or low in mood might be:
What you might see or a young person might report
Things to try, support and Next Steps
A-Z of coping strategies: https://youtu.be/5EXpkVw3fh
How to make and use a coping box: https://youtu.be/OyfgodSSdV4
Needs help; These are challenges that some young people experience and may need some support with
The degree to which a young person feels low or depressed appears out of context or disproportionate to the reason why they might be feeling sad. Episodes of low mood might be more frequent or prolonged and cause the young person distress or might have some mild impact on their ability to cope with everyday life such as going to or coping at school, seeing friends or taking part in leisure activities. Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person feeling low in mood or depressed:
Please note, there are occasions when there is no apparent trigger/ cause/ contributory factor as to why a young person may be experiencing episodes of low mood/ depression. A young person can still be low in mood without clear reason.
What you might see or a young person might report
As well as the features in Green, the following might also be present:
Please note that not all young people who engage in self-harm behaviour are depressed or suicidal. There are many reasons why a young person may engage in self-harm behaviour.
As well as the steps in Green the following might be helpful:
Needs Specialist Treatment or a Crisis Response; These are difficulties that cause a significant impact and a young person may need specialist support.
Episodes of low mood/ depression are severe and enduring. These cause significant distress to a young person and significantly disrupt daily coping such as school/ college, socialising and even self-care activities (e.g., sleep, bathing, eating). Despite trying advice in the green and amber stages, the young person still experiences depression symptoms. Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person feeling low in mood or depressed:
Please note, there are occasions when there is no apparent trigger/ cause/ contributory factor as to why a young person may be experiencing episodes of low mood/ depression. A young person can still be acutely depressed without clear reason.
As well as the features in Green and Amber, the following might also be present:
As well as the steps in Green and Amber the following might be helpful:
Now showing: Video 1 of 6
Video description: I had a black dog, his name was depression - credit World Health Organization
Video description: Supporting a young person with depression in crisis who may self-harm
Video description: A-Z Coping Strategy
Video description: Coping box
Video description: Guided Mindfulness: Passing Clouds - Dr Natalie Roberts
Video description: Guided Mindfulness: Leaves on a Stream