What is depression?
We all feel low or down at times, but if your negative emotions last a long time or feel very severe, you may have depression.
Depression is a mood disorder where you feel very down all the time. Depression can happen as a reaction to something like abuse, bullying or family breakdown, but it can also run in families.
Depression often develops alongside anxiety.
It's not the same as manic depression, which is another term for bipolar disorder.
Depression is one of the most common types of mental illness. Although it's hard to feel optimistic when you're depressed, there is lots of support available to help you feel better.
The symptoms of depression
Depression affects different people in different ways. Symptoms can include:
- not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
- avoiding friends or social situations
- sleeping more or less than normal
- eating more or less than normal
- feeling irritable, upset, miserable or lonely
- being self-critical
- feeling hopeless
- maybe wanting to self-harm
- feeling tired and not having any energy
Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by depression. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
What to do about depression
Take the first step – depression can affect anyone, and you deserve help to feel better. Talk to someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.
You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist who can help you.
Tips from our Activists
Our Activists share their tips on dealing with depression:
"Speak to your doctor or a trusted adult about how you’re feeling."
"Don't be afraid to cry, especially if you're male - it helps to release emotions and you'll feel better afterwards."
"I’ve found that identifying behaviours that aren’t beneficial to you, like endlessly scrolling through Instagram before bed and sleeping late, can be really helpful. It’s hard to force good habits, but it can do wonders for your overall mood."
"Try to keep going outside, even if it’s just a short walk, it can really help your mood to lift."
"Find a distraction technique - we all have different ones; it could be jogging, music, art, reading etc."
For more tips and advice on dealing with depression, as well as real stories, visit our blogs:
Depression can be treated with therapy, or a combination of both therapy and medication. Exercise can also help relieve symptoms.
The most likely therapy you will be offered is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to help you manage your thoughts and feelings, although other types of talking therapy are available.
Where to get help
- provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis - just text YM to 85258
- all texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors
- texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus
- if you're in distress and need support, you can ring Samaritans for free at any time of the day or night.
- freephone (UK and Republic of Ireland): 116 123 (24 hours)
- email: [email protected]
Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide)
- confidential advice and support for young people who feel suicidal.
- HOPELineUK: 0800 068 41 41 (9am – 10pm weekdays; 2pm – 10pm weekends; 2pm – 10pm bank holidays)
- text: 07786 209 697 (9am – 10pm weekdays; 2pm – 10pm weekends; 2pm – 10pm bank holidays)
- email: [email protected]
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
- offers support to young men in the UK who are down or in a crisis.
- helpline: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm - midnight)
- if you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email, or chat online about any problem big or small
- freephone 24/7 helpline: 0800 1111
- sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address
- chat 1:1 with an online advisor
- if you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.
- freephone: 0808 808 4994 (1pm - 11pm daily)