What is Depression?
Most people experience ups and downs and it is normal to feel sad, lonely or stressed some of the time, particularly when we are facing challenges in our lives. Generally, these feelings pass quite quickly but if you’re depressed you can feel persistently down for weeks or months.
People will often say they are depressed after having a down day, feeling sad or dealing with difficult events but having a bad day is not the same as depression. Depression is when you feel sad for longer periods of time to the extent that it is affecting everyday life. Depression is an illness which is normally diagnosed by a doctor or medical professional. It can happen suddenly or it can build up over a long period of time.
Children and young people can experience depression just like adults, in fact it is thought around 10% of teenagers will experience depression at some point. 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 is a feeling of low mood, misery, despair, anxiety, and at the same time, feeling overwhelmed and hopeless in the face of stresses and challenges. It can be caused by a range of factors including:
- An adverse childhood experience (ACEs) which may include:
- Domestic violence
- Parental loss through separation or divorce
- Parent with marked mental health problems
- Being victim of harm or abuse or neglect
- Growing up in household where adults misuse drugs or alcohol
- A reaction to stressful events such as bullying
- Difficult relationships
- The loss of a friend or family member,
- Exam pressure
- Questioning sexuality
Depression could also run in families and be linked to genetic factors however sometimes there is no obvious reason for feeling depressed and it doesn’t have to be caused by anything bad that has happened.