What is depression?
Feeling sad is a normal reaction to experiences that are stressful or upsetting. However, when these feelings go on and on, take over your usual self and interfere with your whole life, it can become an illness. This illness is called ‘depression’.
A young person with depression may experience major problems not only with how they feel, but also with how they behave. This may cause difficulties at home and at school, as well as in relationships with family and friends. Some young people start taking risks.
These can include missing school, harming themselves (for example by cutting), misusing drugs or alcohol, and having inappropriate sexual relationships. Sometimes young people with depression may even try to kill themselves.
At the extreme end of depression, a small number of young people may develop ‘psychotic’ symptoms that may include very unusual and sometimes unpleasant thoughts and experiences like hearing voices. A small number of young people also have periods of high mood, known as ‘mania’, along with periods of low mood. They may be suffering from bipolar affective disorder.
How common is it?
Depression is thought to occur in about 1-3% of children and young people. Anybody can suffer from depression and it affects people of all ages, ethnicities, and social backgrounds. It is more common in older adolescents, particularly teenage girls, but can affect children of any age.
How do I know if I have depression?
Some of the symptoms you are suffering from depression include:
· Being moody and irritable - easily upset, ‘ratty’ or tearful
· Becoming withdrawn - avoiding friends, family and regular activities
· Feeling guilty or bad, being self-critical and self-blaming - hating yourself
· Feeling unhappy, miserable and lonely a lot of the time
· Feeling hopeless and wanting to die
· Finding it difficult to concentrate
· Not looking after your personal appearance
· Changes in sleep pattern: sleeping too little or too much
· Feeling tired
· Not interested in eating, eating little or too much
· Suffering aches and pains, such as headaches or stomach-aches
· feeling you are not good looking.
If you have all or most of these signs and have had them over a long period of time, it may mean that you are depressed. You may find it very difficult to talk about how you are feeling.
What causes depression?
There is no specific cause for depression. It is usually caused by a mixture of things, rather than any one thing alone such as:
· or personal experiences can be a trigger. These include family breakdown, the death or loss of someone you love, neglect, abuse, bullying and physical illness.
· Depression can start if too many changes happen in your life too quickly.
· You are more likely to suffer from depression if you are under a lot of stress, have no one to share their worries with.
· Depression may run in families and can be more common if you already suffer from physical illness or difficulties.
· Depression seems to be linked with chemical changes in the part of brain that controls mood.
What can I do if I am feeling low?
You can try a few things to see if it helps you feel better.
Simply talking to someone you trust, and who you feel understands, can lighten the burden. It can also make it easier to work out practical solutions to problems. For example, if you feel unable to do your homework, letting your family and teachers know can be helpful for you to get some support to complete your work.
Here are some things to try:
· talk to someone whom you trust and can help
· try to do some physical activity and eat healthy food
· try to keep yourself occupied by doing activities, even if you feel you do not really enjoy them
· try not to stay all alone in your room, especially during the day
· don't overstress yourself and allow for fun and leisure time.
Where can I get help?
How parents/family and teachers can help?
When you have depression, you may feel ashamed and guilty of the way you are. You may worry about upsetting others especially family, or being told you are making it up or blamed it is your fault by telling them how you feel. It can also be very hard to put your feelings into words. However, many young people in same situation feel sense of relief at being understood once they have talked about it. Letting others know about how you feel is important for getting the right help and support.
When should I get more help?
Many young people will get better on their own with support and understanding. If the depression is dragging on and causing serious difficulties, it's important to seek treatment. Sometimes when you are feeling low, you may think or try to use drugs or alcohol to forget your feelings. You may see no hope and feel like running away from it all. Doing this only makes the situation worse. When this happens it is important that you let others know and get help.
Where can I get help?
Your GP, or sometimes school nurse, will be able to advise you about what help is available and to arrange a referral to the local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS). They will see you and your family and discuss what is the right treatment for you.
How is depression treated?
When the depression is not very bad, which means you are still able to do your daily activities like going to school, you may find psychological therapies also called talking therapies helpful.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of these which is effective for treating depression.
Other talking therapies which can be helpful. We also have a readily available in-app professional psychologist Aunt Sadaka right here n our app who will answer any questions you might have and help advice you on depression ,so make sure you log in and get to chat with Aunt Sadaka.
When your depression is severe and has been going on for long time, you may find it difficult to even talk about it. In this situation, medications can help to lift your mood.