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Depression and feeling sad

Many young people feel down when life seems really hard or it feels like no one understands you. It’s normal to feel like this sometimes. If sad thoughts and feelings are stopping you from enjoying life, or you feel that life isn’t worth living, then it might help to talk to someone who can listen to you and understand what you're going through.

DepressionTalking about how you are feeling

Some adults don’t realise that children and young people get just as upset and sad as they do. This can make it hard to get adults to listen and take you seriously when you are feeling down. Talking to ChildLine about how you feel can help you deal with these difficult feelings. If there is an adult you can talk to, you can read our tips on asking for help.

What exactly is depression?
People sometimes say they are feeling depressed when they are having a bad day, but ‘depression’ is actually an illness that can really affect people’s lives. Depression is diagnosed by a doctor.

It’s more serious than just the ‘down’ feeling that you may feel sometimes if you’ve had a bad day. Young people can suffer from depression just
like adults do.

I think I'm depressed. How can
I get help?

If you think you are depressed you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you are scared about going on your own, you could ask a friend, or your parent or carer, to go with you. Your doctor will be able to find out if you have depression and talk you through the types of treatments that are available. Find out more about seeing a doctor.

If you're dealing with depression or are self-harming, ChildLine is always here for you to talk to. We can help you find ways of coping.

Call or talk to a counsellor online. ChildLine counsellors are here to listen and can put you in touch with other organisations in your area who can support you through difficult times.

Feeling depressed

What are the symptoms of depression?


Many signs or symptoms of depression are just the same as when you feel down or sad. If they continue for a long time, or get worse, then it might be time to talk to someone and tell them how you feel. Things that may mean you have depression are:

• feeling sad or anxious most of the time
• not enjoying things that you used to enjoy
• tiredness or low energy, even when you have rested
• not eating much or overeating
• problems sleeping
• feelings of worthlessness
• feelings of guilt
• mood swings
• aches or pains that have no obvious cause
• negative thoughts and feelings
• not wanting to see people or go out. 

  • What can I do if I’m feeling down?

    It can seem like the hardest thing to do, but talking to someone about how you feel  means you are starting to deal with your feelings. You could talk to a friend, relative, teacher, parent or carer. If you keep your feelings to yourself, you can start to feel lonely and like you have to cope with everything on your own. If you don’t have anyone you feel that you can talk to, you can talk to a ChildLine counsellor at any time.

  • How can depression affect you?

    Depression affects people in different ways. It can often have physical symptoms like feeling tired or eating less or more than usual. You might also feel helpless, numb, restless or anxious. Depression can make it hard to concentrate. It can lead to you feeling negative about everything and like you will never feel okay again. 

    Some people who experience really serious depression might feel so bad about themselves and their life that they think that the only way out is to kill themselves. If you are thinking about ending your life or are worried about one of your friends, you are not alone and there is help for you. Please call a ChildLine counsellor or talk to someone you trust about it. Read more about suicide.

    Feeling depressed can be really hard to deal with. Some people start to self-harm by cutting themselves, taking drugs, drinking a lot of alcohol or deliberately putting themselves in risky situations. It's really important to get help if you're doing this. Find out more about this on our self-harm page.

    Many young people have difficulties with eating food at some time in their lives. When some people become depressed they find they also start to have problems with eating. Some people might starve themselves, overeat, vomit or use laxatives to lose weight after overeating. If you are worried about anything to do with eating, you can get help on our pages about eating problems.

  • How is depression caused?

    Depression can be triggered by lots of different things. For example, depression can start because of things like: 

    - bullying
    - sexual abuse
    - assault
    - the death of someone you love
    - drug problems
    - exam stress
    - worries about sexuality.

    If someone in your family has depression (or used to have depression), you may be more likely to develop depression. This is only in certain situations, like the ones mentioned above. This doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop depression and there's lots you can do to treat depression. Sometimes there is no obvious reason for feeling depressed and it doesn’t have to be caused by anything that has happened to you.

  • Can I get help with depression from online communities?

    Using the internet or an online community to talk about depression can be a great way to get support. Sharing your experiences means you don’t have to bottle everything up. You could also find other people going through similar things.

    However, it’s important to make sure you do this in a safe place. Some young people have experienced bullying on social networks like Tumblr or Instagram after they have tagged a post with ‘depression’.

    Bullying doesn’t always happen and lots of people are really supportive online. The important thing to remember is that social networks are usually public. Anyone might be able to see something you post. Before you post something, think about whether you are comfortable about it being seen by lots of people.

    If you have been sent nasty comments about depression, the best thing to do is not reply. It’s also a good idea to take screenshots of the messages, so you can show them to an adult you trust.

    The ChildLine message boards is a safe place to talk about depression – or anything else that’s on your mind.

    Find out more about:


    - online bullying
    - staying safe online
    - stopping bullying on different social networks.

  • Where can I find out more about depression?

    Samaritans 08457 909090   www.samaritans.org
    YoungMinds 0207 3368445 www.youngminds.org.uk
    Beat (eating problems) 0845 634 7650  www.b-eat.co.uk
    NHS Choices     www.nhs.uk

Other sites that can help

The Samaritans can help anyone in distress.
Samaritans

Information on how to tell if you have depression and how you can get better.
NHS Choices

YoungMinds is a charity committed to improving the mental health of young people.
YoungMinds

Message boards

Have you got something to say, or want to ask a question? Visit the message board to have your say.

Go to the message boards

Call ChildLine

You can call ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential.

Call ChildLine

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Depression and feeling sad 

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