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If you think you might have depression, you're not alone. Many young people experience this common, treatable condition.

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.

Feeling sad is a normal reaction to stressful or upsetting experiences. However, when these feelings go on and on, take over your usual self and interfere with your whole life, depression can set in. Anybody can suffer from depression and it affects people of all ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds.

There is no specific cause for depression. It’s usually caused by a mixture of things, rather than any one thing alone, such as:

  • Personal experiences such as family breakdown, the death or loss of someone you love, neglect, abuse, bullying and physical illness can all trigger depression
  • Too many changes happening in your life too quickly
  • Being under a lot of stress and have no one to share your worries with
  • If your parents or other family members have suffered depression
  • If you already have physical illness or difficulties,
  • Chemical changes in the part of brain that controls mood

Depression affects different people in different ways. Symptoms might include:

  • Being moody and irritable, feeling easily upset, ‘ratty’ or tearful, miserable or lonely
  • Becoming withdrawn, avoiding friends, family and regular social activities, not wanting to do things you previously enjoyed
  • Feeling guilty or bad, being self-critical and self-blaming, disliking or hating yourself
  • Feeling unhappy, miserable and lonely a lot of the time
  • Feeling hopeless and maybe wanting to harm yourself or even die
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Not looking after your personal appearance
  • Sleeping more or less than normal
  • Feeling tired, not having any energy
  • Not interested in eating, eating more or less than normal
  • Suffering aches and pains, such as headaches or stomach aches
  • Feeling you’re not worthy or good looking

Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by depression. If you have all or most of these signs, and have had them over a long period of time, it might mean you’re depressed and you might find it difficult to talk about how you’re feeling.

Simply talking to someone you trust, and who you feel understands, can lighten your burden. It can also make it easier to work out practical solutions to your problems. For example, if you feel unable to do your homework, letting your family and teachers know can be helpful so you can get some support to complete your work.

Here are some things to try:

  • Talk to someone you trust and who can help you
  • Do some physical activity and eat healthy food
  • Keep yourself occupied by doing activities, even if you don’t feel you’ll enjoy them
  • Don’t stay all alone in your room, especially during the day
  • Don't overstress yourself, do allow for fun and leisure time

When you have depression, you might feel ashamed and guilty. You might worry about upsetting others, especially family, or being told you’re making it up, or that’s your own fault. It can also be very hard to put your feelings into words. However, many young people in the same situation feel a great sense of relief once they’ve talked about it. Letting others know how you feel is important in getting you the right help and support.

Many young people get better with support and understanding. If the depression is dragging on and causing serious difficulties, it's important to seek treatment. Sometimes when you’re feeling low, you might want to use drugs or alcohol to forget your feelings. You might see no hope and feel like running away from it all. Doing this only makes the situation worse. When this happens, it’s important to let others know and get help.

Talk to your parents, GP or school staff. They can advise in various ways, for example, how long you should try self-help, when you should be referred on for further help, what services are available, such as local counselling services and the local ’Child and adolescent mental health service’ (CAMHS).

If your depression is very severe you can refer yourself to our services. In emergencies, you should always call 999.

If you have concerns about suicidal thoughts or self-harm there is more information on our pages on self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

If you need to speak to someone, you can call:

  • Samaritans 116 123  (free confidential 24 hour helpline)
  • Childline 0800 11 11 (free confidential 24 hour helpline for young people up to the age of 19)


Understanding anxiety, depression and CBT course

Anxiety and depression are terms discussed widely, in different media and amongst family and friends. But what do those labels actually mean? Local colleagues from the University of Reading are running a 5 week online course which is open to anyone who wants to understand more. You'll explore what it means to have anxiety or depression and how they are identified. The course will also demonstrate the leading evidence-based treatment–Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

This course is not intended to be a self-help treatment for anyone experiencing anxiety or depression, nor can it be used to formally diagnose yourself or anyone else but it will help you to understand more about these conditions and how they might be experienced by family, friends etc.

The course can be accessed on the Future Learn website.

If you're aged 17 and over, and you need mental health support, you can contact Talking Therapies. Our friendly service offers support and advice on how to cope with challenges like depression, stress, anxiety or phobias. 

Our teams are available for contact 8am to 8pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8am to 6pm on Friday.

You can email us at any time, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Call Talking Therapies 0300 365 2000 (calls charged at local rate)


Visit Talking Therapies website 

Helpful resources

Charlie Waller Trust

Mental health support and information
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Erika's Lighthouse

Support for educators around depression and mental health
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Free online counselling and emotional well-being support service
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Little Blue Book of Sunshine - Apple download

Lots of practical and useful advice to help teenagers with how they're feeling. Download it on Apple.
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Little Blue Book of Sunshine - Google download

The Little Blue Book of Sunshine has lots of practical and useful advice to help teenagers with how they’re feeling. Download it on Google.
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Self help guide to depression
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Number 22

Free and confidential counselling to adults and young people in Windsor, Maidenhead and Slough
External web link -

On My Mind - Anna Freud

Help for young people to make choices about their mental health
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Royal College of Psychiatrists

How to recognise depression in children and young people
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Young Minds

Information and support on depression
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Bracknell Forest's children and young people's helpline
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Resources for depression

Useful resouces for young people, and parents and carers
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