Most people experience ups and downs and it is normal to feel sad, lonely, down or stressed some of the time, particularly when we are facing challenges in our lives. Generally these feelings pass quite quickly.
Although people will often say they are depressed, having a down day or feeling sad or disappointed after difficult events is not the same as depression. Depression is an illness and is normally diagnosed by a doctor or other medical professional. Children and young people can experience depression just like adults, in fact it is thought that around ten percent of teenagers will experience depression at some point.
Struggling to enjoy things, and feeling sad or low for longer periods of time to the extent that it is affecting everyday life – school, work, friends and relationships for example – can be a sign of depression.
It is important to remember that depression is not a sign of weakness and cannot be ‘willed away’ – it is a treatable illness, so talking to someone and asking for help is essential.
What causes depression?
Depression can be caused by lots of different things. It could be a reaction to stressful events such as bullying, family break-up or difficult relationships, the loss of a friend or family member, exam pressure, homelessness, questioning sexuality or experiencing abuse.
Depression can run in families and be linked to genetic or environmental factors, it can occur when people are under a lot of stress and don’t feel supported, and sometimes there is no obvious reason for feeling depressed and it doesn’t have to be caused by anything bad that has happened.