Depression is an illness that can have a big effect on people’s lives, it’s far more serious than just the ‘down’ feeling that you may feel sometimes if you have had a bad day. Anyone can suffer from depression, including young people.

5 things to remember about depression and feeling sad:


  • having depression or feeling down happens to lots of people
  • anyone could be affected, whether you’re a girl, boy, young or old
  • depression can come on at any time
  • there’s lots of things you can do to help you feel better
  • you never have to face things alone. You can always talk to Childline when you feel down.

What causes depression?

Depression can happen because of lots of different things, such as:


  • bullying
  • sexual abuse
  • assault or physical abuse
  • the death of someone you love
  • drug problems
  • exam stress
  • worries about sexuality.
  • Loneliness


Sometimes there’s no obvious reason for feeling depressed. And going through anything mentioned in the list above doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop depression.


Loneliness is often a trigger for depression. You don’t need to be physically alone or cut off to feel lonely, you might be surrounded by other people, but still feel like you’re on your own.


You might feel lonely if you:


  • find it hard to make friends
  • have moved schools and have to start somewhere new
  • have been abused or bullied
  • have lost someone close to you
  • don’t get on with your family or live in care
  • have an illness or disability
  • have an eating problem or are depressed
  • have ended a relationship.


If you’re feeling lonely, you could:


  • get advice about building confidence and self-esteem – this can help you feel more confident when you meet new people and focus on the things you like about yourself
  • get support from other people on Childline message boards
  • talk to an adult you trust
  • join a club or group where you can meet new people – this could be a sports team, music class or book club. Try our hobbies and interests board for ideas of stuff to do
  • talk to a Childline counsellor for support.

Signs and symptoms of depression

Things that may mean you have depression are:


  • feeling sad or anxious most of the time
  • not enjoying things that you used to enjoy
  • tiredness or low energy, even when you have rested
  • not eating much or overeating
  • problems sleeping
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt
  • mood swings
  • aches or pains that have no obvious cause
  • not wanting to see people or go out.

How can depression affect you?

Depression affects people in different ways, such as:


  • Making it hard to concentrate and lead to you feeling negative about everything
  • Self-harm
  • Taking drugs
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Deliberately putting themselves in risky situations.
  • Starvation
  • Overeating and bulimia


It’s really important to get help if you’re doing any of these things. Some people who experience really serious depression feel so bad about themselves and their life, that they think the only way out is to kill themselves. If you’re having suicidal thoughts or feelings or are worried about one of your friends, you’re not alone and there’s help for you. Please call a Childline counsellor for free on 0800 1111 or talk to someone you trust about it.

Coping with depression

  • Talk to your doctor – If you think you’re depressed, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you’re scared about going on your own, you could ask someone to go with you. Your doctor will be able to find out if you have depression and talk you through the types of treatments that are available.
  • Distract yourself – Try to distract your mind with different things like; exercise, seeing friends, getting creative and listening to music
  • Improve your lifestyle by eating healthy and avoiding too much sugar and salt, avoid going to bed late, give yourself positive affirmations, build your confidence
  • Find help online – Talking to people going through depression in online communities can help you to open up. You can get support and let your feelings out. But it’s important to make sure you stay safe online. Avoid public, social sites, try the Childline message boards