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What is it?

We all feel low in mood or sad at times; these can be normal experiences and can often be due to things that are happening in our lives. However, if this feels like it is lasting for a long time or stops you from doing things in your life, then you might have depression.

It’s more than sadness. Sadness is a normal emotion – just like happiness, anger and feeling scared.

Depression makes you feel that you do not enjoy things anymore, it often tells you to isolate yourself and that you are not good enough. It can make you feel worthless and hopeless about the future. Depression can stop you eating and sleeping too, it can make you feel tired and like you have no energy. It can take the fun out of activities you used to enjoy and make it hard to concentrate at times. It can also leave you feeling quite irritable and sometimes makes people feel guilty or ashamed.

Depression can sometimes make you experience dark or negative thoughts, it can sometimes make you feel that life isn’t worth living or make you want to harm yourself. It is important that you get help if this happens.

Depression is an illness.

Most importantly like any illness, depression is treatable. You can get better.

What Causes it?

There is not one main thing that causes depression. Often it is a mixture of things that can lead someone to feel depressed.

  • Stressful situations
  • Being bullied
  • Big changes that you are not happy about
  • Parents splitting up
  • Feeling isolated
  • Not having someone to talk too
  • Losing someone you care about
  • Someone dying

It is more common to experience depression is someone in your family has also experienced it too.

Sometimes you might not know what has caused your depression; that is okay. Some people believe that it might also been an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or hormone changes that causes depression.

Is it common?

Depression can occur in children but is more common in teenagers.

4-8 per cent of teens experience depression, so there are probably others in your school who are feeling the same.

Teenage girls are twice as likely to get a diagnosis as teenage boys, however, that does not necessarily mean that it is less common within boys. Boys are more likely to show different signs than girls, boys will usually show more signs through their behaviour such as becoming angry and irritable.

What helps?

Lots of people can recover within a few months without treatment. However, for some young people it takes longer and might need treatment in order for depression to improve.

Remember depression is treatable and you can recover from this illness. Talking to someone you trust, such as a teacher, family member, friend, councillor, etc, may help.

Different activities can help; do something that you really enjoy, even if you feel you have to force yourself to do this. Exercise can help, this releases your happy hormone and can also act as a distraction. Look at what you are eating sometimes different foods can have an impact on your mood, such as eating too much fat, sugar and caffeine. Try reducing the amount of these you eat. Sometimes vitamin D supplements can help and your GP can advise you around this.

Go to see your GP and they can refer you to your local services in order to get you assessed to find out if you are suffering from depression and then provide you with support to help.

What can CAMHS do to help?

Sometimes you might need a referral to your local child and adolescent mental health service, they can offer lots of different support to help you recover from depression. This might include medication, such as antidepressants or different types of therapy.

CAMHS can offer different types of therapy for depression, these include:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this looks at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and a therapist will work with you to support you to recover by thinking about ways to change the way you think, feel and behave.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescents (IPT-A) – this looks at your relationships with others and how they might be contributing to your depression. Your therapist will work with you to think about your relationships and support you to recover through making improvements within these.

Family therapy – this looks at supporting you within your family, the whole family will attend the therapy and the therapist will support you to recover as a team.

Sometimes medication and therapy can be used together.

Find out more about medications at:

What can I do to help?

Remember depression is treatable – you can get better.

Think about who is around you that can support you. Go to your GP if you think you need additional support.

Depression is an illness that affects your motivation and the quality of what you do. The limited “sick role” means that, whilst you’re experiencing depression, you should be allowed some relief from the pressure of performing your social roles at the same level as before you were depressed. You should also get some extra support and recognition for your attempts at work, without being punished for poor quality.

Who needs to know that you’re not on your ‘A game’ at the moment? What can they do to support you? How can they recognise your efforts?

For example: sharing some of your chores, spend time with you, talk to your teachers, etc.

Who can help? What can they do? How would this help?





Giving yourself the best chance of recovery

Keeping good habits: It is important that you try to keep up with some activities both at home, at school and with friends, because it will help you start to feel better. What is going well that you need to keep doing? For example: getting up every morning and showering, going to school, seeing key friends, watching favourite films, switching your phone off at night…

What will you keep doing?

Who can encourage you?

How can you make this easier for now?




Golden opportunities: What can you start doing to give yourself something to look forward to, or to take a small step towards recovery? We call these antidepressant activities! For example: eating healthily, baking once a week, doing some gentle exercise, finding ways to recharge your batteries, re-starting something you used to enjoy…

What will you start doing?

Who can support you?

How can you make this manageable?




Taking some weight off: Is there anything you need to stop doing for the time being because it’s taking too much out of you? For example: smoking cannabis, spending time with people who drain you, going on Facebook at night, doing too many hobbies, working too many hours…

What will you stop doing?

Who can support you?

How can you keep on track?




The sick role is ‘limited’ because depression doesn’t last for ever. It is important to remember that there will be improvements in your interest, motivation, performance and relationships as you recover from depression. Treatment for depression can help you recover quicker and stay well for longer.

What can parents / carers do to help?

Remember depression is an illness that often affects motivation and the quality of your work. Whilst someone is depressed that should be allowed some relief from the pressure of performing their social roles at the same level as before depression took over.

Caring for young people can be difficult and it may seem that they are being lazy or defiant, but they are actually experiencing a loss of motivation and interest in things, difficulties concentrating and low energy levels. Depression can create difficulties with school work, school attendance, seeing friends, and helping around the house, your relationship might also feel strained.

Whilst your child is depressed it is important to give them extra support and recognise their attempts to aid their recovery. It is important to maintain boundaries to keep your child safe, whilst trying to understand their behaviour in the context of depression. Try to encourage them to engage in as many normal activities as possible, whilst recognising this might be difficult and they may need your support with.

Find time to do some positive things together, this doesn’t have to be anything big and can be as simple as watching something on TV together, walking the dog, having a hot drink together or letting them know that you care for them and are there to support them.

Remember that things will get better and it is important that you stay positive and think about taking care of your own mental health too, as supporting someone with depression can be emotionally demanding, even more so if it is your own child.


Available help

If you or your young person is in a crisis you can access support through the services listed below.

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

  • Provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
  • If you need urgent help 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:

Papyrus (Prevention of Young Suicide)

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 (Daily 17:00-midnight)
  • Webchat


The Mix

  • 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 (13:00-23:00 daily)