It’s totally normal to have feelings of depression sometimes, especially when life is tough. But if you’re concerned about depression, then learning a little more about the causes and solutions can help you tackle it and move on.
What is depression?
Depression is a feeling of sadness or low spirits. We all feel low from time to time, especially when it seems like our work, school or family life is getting on top of us. For most people, as soon as the problems pass, we start to feel brighter and more positive. But sometimes, low feelings are a little harder to shake off, and stop you from feeling yourself.
What causes depression?
All sorts of factors can trigger depression. Often, it starts with a life-changing or traumatic event (like your parents getting divorced or the death of a loved one). Even if this happened a long time ago, it can cause us issues as we grow older, especially if we bottle our feelings up instead of talking them through.
Some medical conditions have been known to cause depression, and it can also be brought on by medication, poor diet or use of alcohol and drugs. You might even be more prone to it because of your family genetics or upbringing.
Whatever the cause, there’s lots of help out there if you think you’re suffering from depression. Keep reading to find out about the symptoms and how to start getting support.
How do I know if I’m suffering from depression?
Depression affects us all differently. Sometimes, it can make you think, feel and act differently. Other times, you might notice changes in the way your body works. Everyone feels low or sad sometimes, but if the feelings below last for a couple of weeks – or return at intervals and last several days – then it might be time to have a chat with someone you trust.
– Low spirits, sadness or even despair
– Feeling unable to relax or concentrate
– Becoming snappy, irritable or impatient with others
– No longer enjoying your favourite activities
– Avoiding the social events you would normally look forward to
– Feeling hopeless and empty, and crying more often
– Losing interest in friendships and struggling to speak in a group
– Feeling lost, isolated and scared to ask for help
– Losing interest in sex
– Always focusing on the bad things that might happen
– Finding it hard to remember details and make choices
– Feeling guilty, and worrying that you’re always to blame
– Feeling small, with no confidence in yourself
– Being reluctant to try things, because “there’s no point”
– Thinking about self-harm or suicide
– Sleeping badly or more than usual (but still feeling exhausted)
– Changes in your appetite, with gain or loss of weight
– Feeling heavy, slow and achy, with no obvious explanation
– Depending more on cigarettes, alcohol and/or drugs
How can I help myself?
If you’re struggling with feelings of depression, you might find that some simple lifestyle changes make things seem much better. Here are a few things you could try.
– Try taking more exercise: getting active for just twenty minutes a day is proven to boost positivity, raise energy levels and get you sleeping better. Whether you choose activities like gardening in a group or team sport, you’re likely to meet some like-minded new people and start feeling yourself again.
– Make connections: it can feel tough to start with, but whether you choose to chat to a relative, text a friend or help out at a local community project, interacting with other people can help you remember that you’re not alone, you have something to contribute and your problems are not so bad.
– Boost your self-esteem: whether that’s by improving your diet, laying off alcohol and cigarettes, taking pride in your appearance or giving yourself a daily to-do list with manageable goals to tick off (don’t forget to reward yourself!).
How can I get support?
If you feel you need help for your depression, it’s good to talk to someone you trust – sharing how you feel with a parent, friend or teacher can make a big difference.
For professional help, there are lots of treatments and support networks available. If you make an appointment with your doctor, they’ll run through the options and help find what suits you.
If you live in Gloucestershire and are aged 9-21, you can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. TIC+ works hard at raising funds so they can arrange for a counsellor to see you for free, all you need to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to arrange an appointment. We know it can be hard to take that first step but, like the other young people we’ve helped, you’ll be so glad you did.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Childline on 0800 1111, NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!