First of all, you are not alone. Depression is one of the most common mental health problems with five per cent of teenagers and one in ten adults experiencing depression at some point. It’s also important to know that it is treatable.
A lot of young people experience ups and downs in their mood and there will be occasions when they will feel down or upset by certain things going on in their lives. If you are feeling low in mood for a short period of time there are a few things you can do to see if it helps you to feel better: such as talk to someone you trust (as they may be able to offer you support and just talking about how you are feeling often) as does doing some physical activity, eating healthy food and making time to do things you enjoy.
However, if you are feeling sad, down, lonely, anxious or stressed for longer periods of time and to the extent that it is affecting your daily life and how you feel or is preventing you from doing things you would normally do, it is likely that you are experiencing symptoms of depression.
Depression can be hard to diagnose on your own, as mood affects our judgement of ourselves but here are some of the symptoms of depression:
- sleeping more or less than normal
- eating more or less than normal
- feeling irritable, upset, tearful, miserable or lonely
- feeling tired and not having any energy
- being self-critical
- feeling hopeless
- not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
- not wanting to meet up with friends or avoiding situations
- maybe wanting to self-harm
Remember, depression is a treatable illness. The first step towards getting help is to recognise that there might be a problem which you already seem to have done. The second step is to talk to someone you trust.
Often young people who have depression are worried about seeking help. I see that you don’t want your family to know that you feel you may be depressed, this is not unusual. Many young people feel worried about how their family will react, fearful of upsetting them or of being unsupported or taken seriously by their family. Often people can feel embarrassed, guilty or ashamed for feeling the way they do.
However, we know that many young people in the same situation feel a sense of relief once they have talked to someone. Just being able to say how they feel out loud, being listened to and understood is an important step in getting better. Also letting others know about how you feel is important for getting the help and support which is right for you.
Please talk to someone you trust, someone like a school nurse, the listening service, or if you are at College, student welfare. I know that you are reluctant to speak with your GP, but all of these people do maintain confidentiality, providing you or others are not at risk. GPs regularly support people of all ages who are experiencing symptoms of depression; and they have the experience and knowledge to help you identify what support and treatment will help you with your recovery. Your GP may make suggestions on steps you can take to try to lift your mood and manage your symptoms. Your GP may suggest that you see a counsellor or arrange a referral to the local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).
There are some really good sources of information online that may help too.
See the Young Minds website here.
Also, there is a useful factsheet for Young People and depression here.