Everyone has ups and downs. Sometimes you might feel a bit low, for lots of different reasons. People may say that they are feeling depressed when they are feeling down, but this does not always mean that they have depression.
Depression is a long-lasting low mood disorder. It affects your ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure or take interest in activities. Depression is a mental illness that is recognised around the world, common – it affects about one in ten of us, something that anyone can get, and treatable.
Depression is not: something you can ‘snap out of’, a sign of weakness, something that everyone experiences, or something that lasts forever as one episode. Doctors might describe depression as ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’. Your doctor may offer you different treatments depending on how they describe it.
Depression can affect people of any age, including children.
Symptoms of depression in children often include:
- sadness, or a low mood that does not go away
- being irritable or grumpy all the time
- not being interested in things they used to enjoy
- feeling tired and exhausted a lot of the time
- have trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
- not be able to concentrate
- interact less with friends and family
- be indecisive
- not have much confidence
- eat less than usual or overeat
- have big changes in weight
- seem unable to relax or be more lethargic than usual
- talk about feeling guilty or worthless
- feel empty or unable to feel emotions (numb)
- have thoughts about suicide or self-harming
- actually self-harm, for example, cutting their skin or taking an overdose
Jacqueline’s Useful Tips:
It’s okay. It’s common to feel this way. You are never alone. These feelings may not last forever. Identify trigger situations.
There are all sorts of reasons why you may be finding it hard to cope. Often it’s due to a combination of things.
Perhaps you’re going through:
- relationship and family problems
- loss, including loss of a friend or a family member through bereavement
- financial worries
- job-related stress
- college or study-related stress
- worry about current events, such as the Coronavirus outbreak
- loneliness and isolation, or struggling with self-isolation
- painful and/or disabling physical illness
There are lots of things you can do to help yourself
- Make time for yourself, relax and do things you enjoy
- Eat healthily; get plenty of sleep and exercise
- Spend time with people you love
- Talk about your problems with people you trust
- Be proud of what you’re good at, as well as aware of what you struggle with
- Pay attention to what you’re feeling.
If you’ve stopped doing things you usually love, you’re tearful, not eating or sleeping properly, drifting from people close to you, taking alcohol or drugs to cope, or self-harming, then talk to someone you trust.
- Be honest and explain that you’re worried that they’re going through something difficult
- Point them towards websites or helplines that can give them information on depression, drugs, and self-harm so they can find out the facts themselves
- Stay in touch with family and friends
- Be more active
- Face your fears
- Do not blame yourself for any problems they’re having and try not to take it personally – this will not help the situation
- Tell them you’ll be there for them when they do want to talk
- Let them choose where to go for help, which may be a GP, a family friend or school counsellor
- Help your teenager think for themselves – encourage them to think through the pros and cons of their behaviour, remind them what they’re good at and what you like about them, and help them think critically about what they see and hear.
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