Depression & Anxiety
What is depression?
We all feel low or down at times but if your negative emotions last a long time or feel very severe, you may have depression.
Depression is a mood disorder where you feel very down all the time. Depression can happen as a reaction to something like abuse, bullying or family breakdown, but it can also run in families.
Depression often develops alongside anxiety
It's not the same as manic depression, which is another term for bipolar disorder
Depression is one of the most common types of mental illness. Although it's hard to feel optimistic when you're depressed, there is lots of support available to help you feel better.
The symptoms of depression
Depression affects different people in different ways. Symptoms can include:
• not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
• avoiding friends or social situations
• sleeping more or less than normal
• eating more or less than normal
• feeling irritable, upset, miserable or lonely
• being self-critical
• feeling hopeless
• maybe wanting to self-harm
• feeling tired and not having any energy
Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by depression. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
What to do about depression
Take the first step – depression can affect anyone, and you deserve help to feel better. Talk to someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.
You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist who can help you.
How can friends and family help?
The support of friends and family can play a very important role in someone recovering from depression. Here are some suggestions for how you can help.
- Support them to get help. You can't force anyone to get help if they don't want it, so it's important to reassure your loved one that it's OK to ask for help, and that there is help out there. See our pages on how to support someone else to seek help for their mental health for more information.
- Be open about depression. Lots of people can find it hard to open up and speak about how they're feeling. Try to be open about depression and difficult emotions, so your friend or family member knows that it's OK to talk about what they're experiencing.
The best things that friends and family can do is simply listen. They often don't need to say anything, just being willing to listen to your problems makes you feel less alone and isolated.
- Keep in touch. It might be hard for your loved one to have the energy to keep up contact, so try to keep in touch. Even just a text message or email to let them know that you're thinking of them can make a big difference to how someone feels.
Talking... not even talking about how I felt. Just talking about stupid things that didn't matter over coffee, without pressure and knowing that I can talk about the tough stuff if I want to.
- Don't be critical. If you've not experienced depression yourself, it can be hard to understand why your friend or family member can't just 'snap out of it'. Try not to blame them or put too much pressure on them to get better straight away – your loved one is probably being very critical and harsh towards themselves already. Mind's information about depression can help you learn more about it.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or panic. Feeling generally anxious sometimes is normal. Most people worry about something - money or exams - but once the difficult situation is over, you feel better and calm down.
If the problem has gone but the feeling of fear or panic stays or even gets stronger, that’s when anxiety becomes a problem.
With as many as one in six yo
ung people experiencing anxiety at some point, it is very common to have anxiety.
Celebrity vlogger Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, revealed that she often suffers from anxiety but has added that with professional help she’s learned a lot of techniques that make the condition totally manageable.
The symptoms of anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety start out the same as just feeling generally anxious but get worse or last longer than they should. These include:
- Feeling frightened, nervous or panicky all the time
- Getting down or depressed
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Tired and irritable
- Palpitations - when your heart feels like its racing
- Dry mouth
- Feeling faint
- Stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea
Feeling one, some or even most of the above doesn’t necessarily mean you have anxiety. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
What to do about anxiety
Take the first step – if you think you are affected by anxiety, talk to your GP or school nurse.
If your health professional thinks you are suffering from anxiety, they will probably suggest a treatment plan for you to follow. They should catch up with you regularly to see how you’re getting on.