Everybody gets down sometimes. But if it's stopping you living your life, you may be depressed.

Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and isn't something you can just snap out of

What is depression?

It's very unusual to feel happy every day. But if you've been really sad for weeks on end, and it's starting to take over your life, you could be depressed.

Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and isn't something you can just snap out of.

It's different in everyone, but here are some common indications:

  • Sadness, hopelessness and low moods that last weeks at a time
  • Getting very little or no enjoyment from life, particularly from things that you used to enjoy
  • Lack of motivation, even for small everyday tasks
  • Lack or loss of self-confidence and feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Poor memory, difficulty concentration, inability to sleep
  • A change in appetite and weight loss or weight gain
  • Loss of interest in friends, family, school, college or work

Why do people get it?

Lots of things can lead to depression. It can be a result of lots of stress or bad experiences. It can also run in families, but some people are just naturally prone to it.

Whatever the cause is, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health issue over the course of one year so if you are feeling down, you really aren't on your own.

Is there any medication you can take?

If someone's very depressed, antidepressant medication may help them to feel better more quickly.

Some doctors prefer not to prescribe these medicines for young people. Talk to your GP. Doctors see people suffering from stress and depression every day. They'll think you're brilliant for noticing what's wrong and asking for help.

I think I'm depressed...

There are lots of ways to help you get better.

  • Talk to someone you trust. It's best to speak to your family if you can.
  • Eat right: balanced, fresh, and most importantly green. Green veg may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it may help.
  • Exercise.
  • Quit alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and detox the mind. It's time to think straight.
  • Most importantly, see your GP who'll have lots of advice. They might also recommend you see a counsellor or therapist. These experts help us figure out what's gone wrong, and how to put things right.

If you're worried you're depressed, you mustn't be afraid to talk to someone about it - be it a parent, friend or doctor. It's nothing to be ashamed of.

Being depressed isn't your fault, and getting help doesn't make you a weak person. It just means you want to get your life back on track - sooner rather than later. You get more advice from mental health charities Mind, MindFull and Young Minds.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.