A young Black woman talking about something serious with an older Black woman in the park.

Depression

What is depression?

Everyone has off days. It’s normal to feel grouchy, sad or just a bit ‘meh.’ But when your off days start to outnumber your good days, you could be struggling with depression.

Depression is a mental health condition that affects your mood, making you feel flat, numb, irritable or sad. It lasts longer than normal shifts in your mood, and it can make it tough to do everyday things like spending time with your friends, working, going to school, or taking care of yourself. Anyone, from any background, can get depressed. It can happen for no clear reason, or it could be triggered by something tough that you’re going through.

If you think you might be depressed, support is out there. And we’re here to help you find it.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. It’s common to get it in winter, but people get symptoms in the summer too.

Lots of people find their mood is affected by changes in the weather – like the colder or hotter temperatures or the shorter and darker days – but if it’s making you feel low a lot of the time, it could be a sign of seasonal depression.

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Over the years of experiencing seasonal affective disorder, I have found a plethora of coping mechanisms that every winter I try to implement in my life... I have found that even if I try one coping mechanism, it brings me one step closer to feeling that little bit better.
Imogen, 20

Symptoms and signs of depression

Everyone’s experience of depression is different, but here are some common signs:

  • feeling sad, upset and down most or all of the time
  • feeling extra irritable
  • feeling numb or empty
  • not wanting to do things you used to enjoy
  • avoiding friends or social situations
  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • eating more or less than usual
  • struggling to focus
  • being self-critical
  • feeling hopeless
  • feeling tired a lot of the time
  • feeling guilty, or like you’re a burden on others
  • wanting to hurt yourself or end your life

Whether you’ve got one, more or all of these symptoms, the important thing is to get help.

Anxiety and depression

  • It’s common to get anxiety and depression together. Some of the symptoms are the same, like:

    • getting agitated
    • feeling restless
    • finding it difficult to sleep or eat

    If you’re struggling with anxiety, find help in our guide.

Getting help for depression

A young Black woman in a wheelchair talking to an older Black woman on a bench in the park.

If you think you’re dealing with depression, speak to someone you trust about how you’re feeling, like a friend, family member, teacher, or anyone else you feel comfortable with. Sharing how you’re feeling is often the first step to feeling better.

If you’re worried about how other people will react, or that they won’t understand, contact a helpline instead. Your feelings are valid and sharing them with someone who gets it can make a real difference.

Get support in our guide to reaching out for help

Speak to your GP to get professional help

Speaking to your GP can feel scary, but your doctor can help you get the right support. They’ll talk you through the support available in your area, which will depend on your age. In most cases, anything you tell them will be kept confidential – this means they won’t tell anyone unless you agree they can. However, if they think you’re at risk of seriously harming yourself or others, they might need to tell someone. But they’ll always try to tell you this first if they can.

More on how to speak to your GP

Getting support for depression on the NHS depends on your age.

If you’re under 18, your GP will refer you to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS).

If you’re a student, your school or college could refer you to CAMHS, or offer their own counselling service. Speak to a teacher you trust to find out more.

Read our guide to CAMHS

If you’re over 18, your GP can refer you to an adult mental health service in your area and let you know what counselling or therapy options you have. Many places let you refer yourself to NHS talking therapies – find out more about this on the NHS website.

If you’re a student, you may be able to get counselling through your college or university. Speak to a teacher or professor that you trust, or get in touch with the person in charge of student wellbeing. You can take a friend or family member along to those meetings if you’re feeling nervous.

Some workplaces may offer support through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). If the information isn’t readily available in your staff handbook, speak to your human resources (HR) department to find out if there is an EAP programme available. It may be hard, but your HR team are there to support you to stay in work for as long as possible.

A group of young people sitting in a park talking and smiling at each other.
To anyone with whom this resonates: I know that you hear this over and over but please, please, please find someone that you can talk to. This can be a family member, counsellor, doctor, trusted friend, internet forum – anyone who you feel safe confiding in, and who will be willing to listen without judging.

Treating depression

When you’re feeling depressed, it’s tough to imagine getting better. But treatment is out there. With the right help, you’ll start feeling like yourself again.

The two most common treatments for depression are talking therapy and medication, and they’re often used together.

Talking therapy is when you talk about your thoughts, feelings and life experiences with a trained professional, either on your own or in a group. This helps you spot unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, and gives you the tools to change those patterns.

Find out more about counselling and therapy
A white non-binary teenager laughing with an older Black woman in a professional setting.
A counsellor won’t push you to talk about something that makes you feel uncomfortable - you only have to talk about things that YOU want to talk about. And just as you can do in a regular situation, you can say you’re uncomfortable with the topic and move on.

Your doctor might suggest antidepressant medication to treat your depression. These can make you feel better, but they’re unlikely to deal with the root of the problem. That’s why doctors often pair antidepressants with talking therapy.

There are lots of different types of antidepressants, and people respond to them in different ways. The most common type is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like citalopram, sertraline and fluoxetine.

Find out more about medication
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The citalopram doesn’t make me feel sedated; I just feel like myself. I know that I need to use this time to practise looking after myself and plan for what I will do if I feel myself getting depressed again.
A young woman walking in a park with a friend behind her.
My mental health hasn’t been perfect since the transition. I have had low points. But I’ve managed my conditions better with medication than I would have without it, and, alongside counselling, they have been a life-saving mental health treatment.

Ways to look after yourself if you have depression

Getting help for depression is important, but there are things you can do for yourself that can help. When you feel like the world is on top of you, this can be tough, but it’s important to try.

Different things work for different people, so you’ll need to find what works for you – here are some tips from other young people like you:

"It’s very easy with depression to feel like you’re experiencing it alone, but depression tends to thrive on someone being isolated. It can be extremely useful to reach out and talk to someone about what you’re feeling.”

Get more tips from Luca, 23, on how to look after yourself when you’re struggling with depression

“I’ve used writing to create fantasy worlds, to analyse subjects that matter to me, and create a character to explore my own trauma. My writing has helped me make sense of the anxiety, stress and depression I’ve experienced through my adolescent years allowing me to come to peace with who I am as a person.”

Find out how Samara uses creative writing and music to support her mental health

“Try to keep going outside, even if it’s just a short walk, it can really help your mood to lift.”

Read more about Molly’s experience of depression

“Practising mindfulness can be a really helpful tool for looking after our mental health. I find that meditation is the easiest route into mindfulness and you can easily find videos or audio clips to follow online. You can also try apps like Calm or Headspace.”

Read how practising mindfulness helps Rachel, 17, look after her mental health

How to help someone with depression

Supporting someone with depression is tough, but there are things you can do to help.

  • Listen without judgement

    Sometimes just talking about our problems and feeling heard can really help. It’s not always easy to hear how someone we care about has been struggling but try to just listen without judgement and avoid offering solutions unless they ask.

  • Encourage them to get help

    If they say they’re struggling, encourage them to speak to a doctor. If they’re nervous about seeing their GP, offer to go with them for moral support.

  • Celebrate the little wins with them

    Little wins matter a lot for someone battling depression. Whether it’s getting out of bed, taking a shower or going to the shops, notice those wins and let them know you’re proud.

  • Be there for them

    Socialising can be tough if you’re struggling with depression, but spending time with people who care about you can help. Find low-pressure activities you can do together, like watching a movie or gaming.

  • Look after yourself

    It’s great that you want to help but remember it’s not up to you to fix everything. Take time for yourself and look after your own wellbeing too.

For more information and advice on supporting a friend with their mental health, look at our guide.

Supporting a friend with their mental health
Three young people sitting together in a park.
It’s easy to feel as though you’re being a burden by telling someone when you’re struggling, but it’s important to remember that these are shared moments. It was not just a case of me venting without any input or interaction from her. She understood me more as a person, and sharing on such a personal level helped us become even closer as friends.

Get help now

If you're feeling down right now, don't bottle it up and struggle alone. Here are some services that can help.

  • Samaritans

    Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. N.B. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • Papyrus

    Offers confidential advice and support for young people struggling with suicidal thoughts, as well as family and friends; and information about how to make a safety plan.

    Its helpline service - HOPELINE247 - is available to anybody under the age of 35 experiencing suicidal thoughts, or anybody concerned that a young person could be thinking of suicide.

    Opening times:
    24/7 every day of the year
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)

    Provides support to anyone aged 16+ who is feeling down and needs to talk or find information.

    Free webchat service available.

    Read information about the helpline and how it works.

    Opening times:
    5pm - midnight, 365 days a year
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • Shout

    Text SHOUT to 85258.

    Shout provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    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.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:
    24/7
Patient Information Forum Trusted Information Creator (PIF TICK) logo

This page was reviewed in March 2024.

It was co-created with young people with lived experience of depression.

We will next review the page in 2027.

YoungMinds is a proud member of PIF TICK – the UK's quality mark for trusted health information.

Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.

Please be aware that this form isn’t a mental health support service. If you are in crisis right now and want to talk to someone urgently, find out who to contact on our urgent help page.

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This form is not a mental health support service. We cannot reply to this. If you are at risk of immediate harm, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E. If you are worried about your mental health, call: Childline (for under 19s) on 0800 11 11; or Samaritans on 116 123.

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