Feeling sad every now and then is a natural way of our bodies and minds letting us know when things are going well for us or not. We all react in different ways to the things that happen to us (both big and small), from being tearful and needing a cuddle to feeling like you want to sit in your room on your own, or to just being in a sulky bad mood. While most of us just need to resolve it, or just take some time to get over it, others may feel down in a way that doesn’t seem to get better. If that down feeling doesn’t shift, gets worse, or you feel despairing and hopeless, it may be depression.
Everyone feels sad sometimes
The difference between feeling down and depression
There is a big difference between feeling down and having depression. Feeling down isn’t much fun, it might take a good cry, chat or a cuddle to make you feel better but it does pass. However, if you feel down all the time, have low energy or dark thoughts that don’t shift, then you may have the symptoms of depression. Depression is something all sorts of people can experience at any point in their lives. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about, but it’s extremely important to get help as it’s not something you can beat on your own.
Recognising the signs of depression
You may be depressed if you experience more than two or three of the following:
- Worried that you might never feel happy again
- Crying a lot of the time
- Getting angry over small things that perhaps wouldn’t normally bother you
- Not wanting to see friends or be around others
- Not enjoying life, especially things you usually like to do
- Lack of motivation - getting dressed or showered becomes a chore
- Feeling worthless or useless
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling numb all the time
- Being unable to sleep
- Sleeping more than usual
- Having low energy and feeling tired
- Change in appetite
- Poor memory or find it difficult to concentrate
- Feeling like there’s no point to anything
How do you get depression?
There are lots of reasons that people suffer from depression. It could be that you’re under some kind of stress or pressure, or you’ve experienced something bad or some kind of trauma, while other times people may feel depressed and can’t find a reason why - it just feels that way. Lots of people struggle with these sorts of issues, so you’re not on your own; in fact what you’re going through is common. The important thing is that there are many ways you can get help and get through it.
If a family member suffers with depression it doesn’t automatically mean you will develop it. Lots of factors affect the development of depression.
Ways to get better and feel happy
- Talk to someone - a parent or guardian, a relative, a friend or school counsellor. You might feel like you are on your own, but speaking to someone you trust can help.
- Look after yourself. Taking care of your physical health can have a positive impact on your mental health – so try and exercise, sleep well and eat a balanced diet.
- Keep a diary. Writing down your feelings can help clear your head and offload negative thoughts.
- Takes some risks. If you’re staying locked away because you’re feeling sad – try doing something social, playing a sport, or meeting some new people. If you wait until you “feel like it” it may never happen, so you may need to push yourself a bit.
- If you still feel overwhelmed, you may need to go to your doctor/GP, he or she can refer you to a trained professional.
Finally, it’s really important to remember that having depression is not your fault. And getting help is nothing to be ashamed of. It might seem like you’ll never feel happy again, but with help you should start to feel better in time.
For information about organisations which can offer more advice on a range of issues, check out the advice helplines page.
And for loads more about all kinds of emotions head to the Lifebabble guide to feeling good.