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depression; youth; mood; suicide; sadness; mental; illness;

If you have been feeling low for two weeks or more you may be depressed.

  • Depression is the most common mental health problem for young people
  • About one in five will have had depression by the time they are 25

Need help?
If you ever feel like hurting yourself, get help. Talk to a person you trust or speak to a health care professional. Check out the topic Suicide. See the Help section below for support with depression.


How do I know if I am depressed?

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you

  • have felt sad, miserable, or cranky most of the time
  • have lost interest in things that you usually enjoy
  • have troubles with relationships, feel lonely, unloved, misunderstood
  • have trouble concentrating
  • feel tired much of the time, or have lower energy than usual
  • feel more worried, anxious
  • have problems sleeping, or feeling like you want to sleep all the time
  • are not interested in eating or want to eat much more than usual
  • feel guilty or worthless and that life is not worth living
  • feel like harming yourself or think about suicide.

As well as feeling bad, people who are depressed may have problems with relating to their family and friends, and stop doing things they usually enjoy. They may spend a lot of time alone. They may start doing poorly with their study or have problems at work.

Some people start to drink more alcohol (including binge drinking), smoke more and use other drugs. They may behave in risky ways, such as dangerous driving or 'act out' – being angry, aggressive or behaving badly. Depression can also have long term effects such as the dropping out of study, quitting a job and breaking up relationships.

Often someone who is depressed does not realise that they are depressed. It also may be hard for others to realise you are depressed. They may think you are just in a bad mood, angry, wanting to cause trouble or just lazy. This can make it harder to get help.

Why did I get it?

It is not easy to say why people become depressed – it is different for each person. Triggers may be:

  • a breakup, family problems, grief, abuse or violence
  • a major injury or illness
  • stress
  • unemployment
  • big life changes such as having a baby (see Postnatal depression)
  • bullying and abuse.

There can be an inherited tendency to get depressed. Sometimes there may not seem to be a reason for it. Young women get depressed more often than young men, but both men and women get depressed. Young men may find it harder to get help because they don't know how to talk about their feelings.

How can I get better?

Depression is like any other illness – you need to find ways to get through it and ways to stop it coming back. Depression is not a sign of weakness – you can't just 'pull yourself together'.

  • Talk to a person you trust– keeping it to yourself only makes things worse.
  • See your doctor.
  • Get help with negative thinking. Check out the topic Counselling.
  • Exercise and eat well.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Your doctor may think that anti-depressant medicines will help.
  • Try relaxation exercises, such as yoga or mediation.
  • Set some goals. Write down why you are feeling low and what you can do about each problem.

Other really important things

  • Keep doing things – stay active and stay connected with other people.
  • Talk with friends, go to a movie or take a dog for a walk – even if you don't feel like it. Don't stay in bed, nap or lie around all day.
  • DON'T turn to alcohol or other drugs –these don't make things better.

Helping others with depression

  • Be there for them. Listen to their feelings and show concern.
  • Offer to make an appointment to see a health professional.
  • Take their feelings seriously.

More on depression


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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