Depression and mood disorders

What is it?

It’s really common to feel down now and again. But when you feel sad, lonely and anxious, these feelings won’t go away and they’re stopping you doing what you’d normally do of a day, then you may be depressed.

Depression happens on a sliding scale from mild through to severe. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming it stops you from doing anything at all. It can also be a symptom or part of other illnesses, for example people with bipolar disorder can move between periods of depression and periods of hypomania (feeling high, on top of the world, and feeling capable of doing virtually anything).

What does depression look like?

When you’re depressed you may:

  • feel tired and lack energy
  • struggle to sleep or sleeping excessively
  • lose interest in things you normally enjoy
  • put on or lose weight
  • get easily bad-tempered
  • not want to hang out with friends
  • feelings of worthlessness

Sadly, some people get to a point where they feel life’s hardly worth living anymore.

When does it happen?

If you’re struggling to cope with a stressful situation in your life and you’ve been feeling this way for more than a fortnight it can sometimes lead to depression. Depression can also result from a build-up of lots of small problems which leave you feeling stuck and isolated.

What can I do?

There are things you can do to help these types of thoughts and feelings.

  • Firstly speaking to a trusted person about how you are feeling; this could be family, friends, doctor, school nurse or counselor.
  • Get some fresh air most days.
  • Get some regular exercise – there is a proven link between exercise and better mental health.
  • Do things you enjoy whether it is skateboarding, hanging out with friends or reading.
  • Try to eat regularly even if it is small but often.
  • Write a diary about how you are feeling.
  • Remember, you are not the only one to experience depression and you haven’t done anything wrong. People can help so don’t suffer on your own, choose someone you like and trust to talk to.

You can also try our self-help resources for understanding and coping with depression.

There are other treatments available which can vary depending on the scale of your depression but include self-help materials, counselling cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy and medication (such as anti-depressants). CAMHS or your GP will be able to speak to you more about these options.

For more information on depression visit Young Minds or find out how to access our services so that we can support you.

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Page last reviewed: 20 December, 2023