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 can be caused by a range of factors including:

  • A reaction to stressful events such as bullying,
  • Family break-up
  • Difficult relationships
  • The loss of a friend or family member,
  • Exam pressure
  • Homelessness
  • Questioning sexuality
  • Experiencing abuse

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.

How do I know if I am Depressed?

Depression can affect people in different ways. You may experience different symptoms and at different levels of severity to others you know.

These are some of the sings and symptoms that someone who is depressed might experience:

  • Feeling sad, low or hopeless most of the time
  • Not wanting to do things you used to enjoy
  • Feeling unmotivated and losing interest in things
  • Feeling guilty, worthless or bad about yourself
  • Feeling lonely, isolated and miserable
  • Being grumpy, uptight and irritable with yourself and others
  • Being very critical of yourself and others
  • Dwelling on negative thoughts
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling tired and low energy all the time, even after rest
  • Unexplained physical symptoms such as aches, pains and loss of appetite
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Eating more or less than normal
  • Not wanting to go to school or work, struggling to leave the house
  • Not wanting to see people, avoiding social situations and withdrawing from friends and family
  • Using drugs, alcohol or self-harm to feel better
  • Thoughts of ending your own life

If you are feeling like this or are worried about a friend or family member please talk to someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, your doctor, teacher/pastrol support or youth worker. You can also contact Childline, The Samaritans or Papyrus for support and someone to talk to. In a crisis go to your local A&E or call 999.

What helps?

Talking to someone about how you are feeling is the most important thing. It can help you to feel better, and It may also help you to ask for professional support if you need it.

Depression is a treatable illness, so it is important to visit your GP/family doctor. You can take a friend or family member with you if this helps. If you are worried about or unsure about how to talk to your GP about your mental health you should check out DocReady.

There are a number of treatments your doctor may suggest, depending on how severe your depression is. These could include advice on diet, sleep and exercise, a referral to talking therapies or medication such as anti-depressants. Medication is only likely to be offered if your depression continues for a long time, and for some people it can be very effective, especially if it is offered alongside psychological therapy. Keep in mind that if you are prescribed medication you should see your doctor regularly so they can monitor your mood and check you don’t have any side effects. For more information about medication for depression see Headmeds.

How can I help myself?

There are also things you can do to help yourself feel better. These could include:

  • Talking about your feelings
  • Writing feelings down or keeping a journal
  • Trying to do things you used to enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it – seeing friends, attending a youth group, reading, playing sports, walking the dog, playing music or singing, cooking, doing something creative or watching your favourite TV shows for example. Setting goals and writing them down can be a useful way to motivate yourself to do this.
  • Joining safe online forums such as Kooth, The Mix or Childline – where you can share experiences with other young people
  • Spending time outdoors and taking some regular exercise – there is lots of evidence to suggest that this can help to improve mood.
  • Taking care of yourself – eating healthily, avoiding drugs and alcohol, making time for relaxation or mindfulness activities.
  • Sticking to daily routines as much as possible even if this is tough and you feel tired – going to school/work, trying to eat regularly, going to bed and getting up at normal times. Missing school or avoiding social situations may feel better in the short term, but over time this can increase feelings of loneliness and worthlessness, leading to a ‘downward spiral’.

See our Healthy Mind section for more ideas on how to boost your mood and wellbeing.

ER Groups

Who are they?

Emotional Resilience Groups are a 6-week programme which provides a safe space and social support for young people to build emotional resilience. The programme provides young people with early support around concerns such as anxiety, low mood, stress, relationship difficulties and bullying.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, low mood, stress, low self-esteem, poor communication skills, self-harm and risk taking.

What services do they provide?

  • Sessions focus on developing emotional resilience through promoting emotional wellbeing, positive mental health, self-help and peer support
  • Young people will develop skills and strategies to manage low level mental health difficulties and access appropriate support.

When are they open?

This can vary but generally Monday-Friday

Where?

Within schools and Community venues across Cornwall.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-25 with mild to moderate mental health

Hear Our Voice 1-2-1

Who are they?

The Hear Our Voice 1-2-1 NHS Commissioned service is a project that provides targeted one to one intervention to young people who are experiencing mild to moderate difficulties with their mental health and emotional well-being.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Depression, risk taking behaviours, low confidence and self-esteem.

What services do they provide?

  • A safe and inclusive environment that supports young people to explore
  • Mental health management
  • Resilience building
  • Positive coping strategies development
  • Supporting young people in setting and achieving their goals using a range of individual interventions including youth work and goal setting methods.

When are they open?

This can vary. Intervention usually takes place during weekdays; however, evenings and weekends are available to meet the needs of the young person.

Where?

Countywide

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-18 with mild to moderate mental health

Hear Our Voice WP CYP

Who are they?

Hear Our Voice WP CYP (Children and Young People Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) is a project Commissioned by the NHS and delivered by Young People Cornwall (YPC) and AFC. They provide Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LI CBT). The idea for LICBT is to operate at an early intervention level where presentations experienced are mild to moderate. LI CBT is a single stranded approach meaning that the focus will be on the ‘main’ concern such as anxiety or depression rather than co-morbidities and complex presentations.

LICBT is an approach that is considered non-intrusive and considered guided self-help. The overall aim is to replace unhelpful habits with more adaptive/helpful habits and strategies and places the focus on one’s thoughts and behaviours.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Depression/low-mood and Behavioural difficulties (13+)

What services do they provide?

  • Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Lifestyle management

When are they open?

Their services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and the WP CYP

Where?

Each WP CYP will arrange visits in schools, homes, local outreach and community venues dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Referrals are taken directly through the organisations request for help form and referral management system or through the Early Help Hub.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people (age) with mild to moderate anxiety and depression presentations, including social phobia, separation anxiety, generalised anxiety, panic (including panic with agoraphobia), mild health anxiety, simple phobia, sleep problems & stress management.

Exclusions include high risk children and young people including entrenched self-harm, complex cases (co-morbidities), chronic depression and anxiety, Bi-polar depression, blood vomit and needle phobia, PTSD, bereavement, complex interpersonal and relationship issues, pain management, psychosis, eating disorders, historical and current experiences of abuse/violence.

Outlook South West

Who are they?

Outlook South West are an organisation who support young people aged 16 and over within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with their mental health issues through Psychological Therapies.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Antenatal and Postnatal Depression

What services do they provide?

  • Psychological Therapies
  • Patient-centred Therapy
  • Psycho-educational courses & groups
  • Individual one-to-one therapy (i.e. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Online therapy (i.e. SilverCloud)
  • Telephone CBT

When are they open?

Mondays to Fridays 9am - 5pm

Where?

Their therapies are provided throughout GP surgeries and their locality offices across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

How do I refer?

Referrals from professionals and individuals can be made Online (https://gateway.mayden.co.uk/referral-v2/01d3ec67-a688-4700-8b1e-ad3acacabf07), by email (OSWLLP.Referrals@nhs.net) or by Telephone (01208 871905)

Speak Up Cornwall

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) speak up Cornwall is a participation group for young people aged 13-24 looking at, supporting with youth voice and creating tool kits for mental health services across Cornwall. Speak Up Cornwall works at both a local reginal and national levels. It also supports services at a strategic level as well as service entry level.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Current members have a wide range of mental health issues.
  • What services do they provide?
  • Participation group
  • Support
  • Peer Support

When are they open?

Days and times will be confirmed by the group lead.

Where?

They meet once a month at Zebs youth centre The Leats, Town Centre, Truro TR1 3AG.

They also work remotely (over social media) and attend meetings, conferences and events all over Cornwall, the southwest and nationally.

How do I refer?

Via emailing charlotte.brasier@ypc.org.uk or through the Young People Cornwall referral form which can be requested by emailing: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Young People aged 13-24 with an awareness of mental health services.

Young Men’s group

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) the service is for male individuals aged 11-19 with low level mental health issues to engage in group work. Their 1 to 1 service is first offered, with invitation to join a group. Group operates similar to a youth group in that young people can relax in a safe space, engage with workers and other group members through activities, enjoy informal discussion and have something to eat. Group trips to residential centres, activity providers and meals out also happen.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

A wide range of low level general mental health concerns such as Anxiety, depression, stress, low mood, self-harm etc.

What services do they provide?

  • 1 to 1 work
  • Group work

When are they open?

Two groups are run once a week on a weekday evening for two and a half hours.

Where?

Previous groups took place in Launceston & Liskeard but these will be moving locations towards the Redruth, Camborne & Pool area as well as St Ives.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Referrals can be made from a wide range of sources such as yourself, school, charity service, CAMHS, G.P, parent, targeted youth worker and police. Once referrals have been received workers aim to make contact within 7 days.

Who can be referred?

Young men aged 11-19. Usual referrals indicate willingness to get involved with group work at some point. Criteria can include; social skills, social isolation, low level mental health, learning disability, victims of crime, general low confidence and self-esteem.

Myth buster #1

Myth: People with depression can ‘snap out of it’

Fact: You wouldn’t expect someone to cure a physical illness with positive thinking and willpower alone, depression is no different. It is an illness that needs treating – with the right therapies, support and (sometimes) medication people get better.

Myth buster #2

Myth: Depression is the same as being sad

Fact: Sadness is a normal emotion that comes and goes. People with depression might feel sad, but they also experience a whole range of difficult physical and mental symptoms that can include hopelessness, anxiety, extreme tiredness, no motivation or enjoyment, problems with sleep, eating and concentration, and frightening and negative thoughts.

See this short animation for an insight into what depression can feel like

Useful resources

The Mix

For expert advice, videos, Q & A, tips and chat with other young people

 Young Minds

For more detailed information about depression and low mood

Need help now?

If you need to speak to someone urgently call your GP or family doctor!

or

NHS 24/7 helpline : 0800 038 5300
Childline up to 19 yrs: 0800 1111
The Samaritans: 116 123
In an emergency go to A&E or call 999