Depression is very common and everyone feels fed up, sad, unhappy,
miserable at times. Sometimes we know that there is a cause for our
depression - maybe we have just broken up from a relationship, maybe
someone we were close to has died, we may have failed exams, we may
be ill - but other times there doesn't seem to be one cause - it may
be a build up of problems, feeling unable to cope with life and we
are not really sure why.
When depression is very severe some people can feel that life isn't
worth living, they want to die. When depression doesn't go away it
is important to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness
to ask for help but a sign of strength to recognise that you have these
feelings and are unable to cope. Many people find at some
stage in their life that it is hard to cope as well as they used to.
You don't have to be strong all the time - recognise when you are finding
it difficult to cope and need support.
People can get a variety of symptoms when they feel very depressed.
General feelings of unhappiness which don't go away.
Having no interest in life.
Finding it difficult to concentrate and make even easy decisions.
Having no feeling of enjoyment in life.
Not wanting to go out or mix with people but spending a lot of
time on your own.
Feeling very tired and having no energy.
Finding it difficult to sleep and waking up frequently during
Having no appetite and eating very little
Losing self confidence and feeling worthless.
Being very irritable, anxious, impatient.
Feeling very negative about life.
Having suicidal thoughts.
If you are depressed don't bottle it up - it is important you talk
to someone - family, friend, teacher, youth leader, GP, organisation,
helpline etc. - anyone you feel you can trust If you don't share how
you are feeling you may find yourself using unhealthy coping strategies
which will in the long run only add to your problems and make you feel
worse - some people may start drinking alcohol more, may take drugs,
may start self harming and cutting themselves, may stop eating or binge
eating and making themselves sick.
You may find that counselling will help you as this
will give you a safe space to talk to someone who is especially trained.
This will help you to say how you really feel inside and the counsellor
will work with you to help you find solutions and healthy coping strategies
and to look at the reasons behind your depression. This will give you
a better understanding of your feelings and some support in working
through anything which is troubling you. If you find that counselling
doesn't work for you then it would be an idea to see your GP and discuss
with him other ways of helping you with your depression.
Talking to others and counselling and therapy can help but to pull
yourself out of a depression you need to do a lot of work yourself.
When you are depressed you may feel you have no control over your life
but you do still have choices. You can choose to stay depressed
and not eat properly, not exercise, stay in bed all day, etc. or you
can choose to try and help yourself to get out of the depression
. If you take care of yourself physically it will help you to feel
stronger emotionally and to cope more easily with life. Just as a car
needs petrol to work properly so does your body need nutrients from
food so although you may not feel like eating please try and eat healthily
and drink plenty of water.
Sometimes when we are depressed life can seem very negative and black
- it can be easy to forget that there are beautiful things in the world
surrounding us. Try and get out each day into an open space, park,
forest, lake etc. and just take in the beauty of your surroundings,
and try and be at one with nature. This can help keep things in perspective
and lift your mood.
Set yourself small goals - maybe each day try and write down something
you want to do the following day and try and follow this through. The
more active you are the less time you will have to focus on your depression.
Try and interact with other people when you can as if you totally isolate
yourself and cut yourself off from the outside world you could find
your depression gets more severe.
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What Can I do To Help Myself
- Don't bottle things up - find someone to talk to about how you
- Make sure you get plenty of exercise and plenty of fresh air. You
will find that even if you do a quick walk every day and a short
period of other exercise each day you will start to feel physically
and emotionally stronger and more able to cope.
- Make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet - eat little and often
and don't skip meals. If you are not eating properly you will feel
more depressed and listless.
- Try and keep busy - to keep your mind occupied.
- Do things you enjoy to relax, treat yourself and take care of yourself.
- Try and get to bed at a regular time. If you find it difficult
to sleep listen to the radio/TV/read and you may find you drop off
to sleep more easily.
- Don't resort to unhealthy ways of dealing with your problems like
drinking, taking drugs, cutting, eating disorders.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Try to stop thinking in a negative way - when you think a negative
thought try and replace it with a positive one.
- If you need a hug ask someone you trust - this can make you feel
that someone really does care how you are feeling.
Remember depression is very common - you will
not always feel like this - you will come out of it and be able to
If your depression is severe and you are having thoughts about harming
yourself or ending your life it is important you talk to someone immediately
about how you are feeling. If you are a child or young person speak
to your parents about how you are feeling. They would want to know
how you feel and to support you and look at ways of helping. Talk to
your GP and make him aware of what is going on for you. It is very
difficult to deal with severe depression on your own - you need help
and support and in some cases your GP may advise medication.
ENDING YOUR LIFE AND HARMING YOURSELF
IS NEVER THE ANSWER. YOU HAVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU AND WILL
NOT ALWAYS FEEL LIKE THIS.
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Agencies which offer support and information
SupportLine Telephone Helpline: 01708 765200 (Helpline)
Confidential emotional support to Children Young People and Adults.
Also keeps details of agencies, support groups and counsellors
Action on Depression (Scotland):
Telephone information and other support for people affected by
depression. Information about symptoms and treatment, listening
support and signposting to other agencies.
Association for Post Natal Illness: 020 7386 0868
To advise and support women suffering from post natal illness.
Running a network of volunteers to support sufferers throughout
Aware Defeat Depression: 08451 202961 (area served N.Ireland)
Support, information or a listening ear for all those affected by depressive illnesses.
020 7931 6480
Advice and information for people with manic depression and their
families, carers and mental health professionals. Supply a range
of information leaflets, books and tapes. Network of self help
groups for people with manic depression, relatives and friends.
Self management training programme.
Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87 (Area served SCOTLAND)
Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line for people in Scotland who are experiencing low mood or depression. Breathing Space is available to the public every day of the year, 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday–6am Monday) and 6pm-2am (Monday-Thursday).
CALL Community Advice and Listening Line (Wales): 0800 132737
Mental health helpline for Wales providing confidential listening support service.
National 0800 585858
Campaign Against Living Miserably. Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues which include depression and suicide.
Childline: 0800 1111
Directory and Book Services:
Wide range of books including those on depression, self esteem
assertiveness, self harm, child abuse.
Also offer a range
of information on depression and treatment options. National network
of self help groups for people experiencing depression. National
pen friend scheme offering support and fellowship to people with
depression and their carers. Quarterly newsletter, booklets and
leaflets on depression.
Self Help Nottingham, Ormiston House, 32-36 Pelham
Street, Nottingham NG1 2EG UK
Wide self help organisation made
up of individual members and groups which meet locally on a regular
basis for mutual support. £10 yearly membership (reductions
for those who cannot afford that amount).
Get Connected: 0808 808 4994
Free telephone and email helpline finding young people the best
help whatever the problem. Can connect a child or young person
to any UK helpline where appropriate.
Health in Mind (Scotland)
0131 225 8508
Promotes positive mental health and well being in Scotland. Provides a wide range of services including support, respite, befriending, day services, counselling/talking therapies, face to face and on telephone.
0808 808 8000
For anyone in N.Ireland who is in distress or despair. Immediate help on phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Face to face counselling can be arranged, also befriending, mentoring. Issues dealt with include suicide prevention, self harm, abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety.
Run by Contact N.Ireland www.contactni.com independent counselling service employing professional qualified counselors who have extensive experience of working with people facing a wide range of problems, free to all users.
The Maytree: 020 7263 7070
Sanctuary for the
suicidal offering befriending and support (based in N.London).
The Mental Health Foundation:
Publish a booklet 'Understanding Depression'.
Mind (National Association for Mental Health): 0300 123 3393
Publish booklets relating to Depression.
Helpline: 0161 832 3736
National Helpline and online support providing free and confidential information, advice and support to people with mood disorders, family, friends and health and social care professionals. Also one to one, support groups, workshops at Centre in Manchester.
Muslim Youth Helpline:
0808 808 2008 (Area
Helpline providing culturally sensitive support
to Muslim youth under the age of 25. Outreach services including
family mediation, face to face counselling and befriending.
National Youth Advocacy Service:
0808 808 1001
information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to young
people up to the age of 25 through a network of advocates throughout
England and Wales.
To inform the public about seasonal affective disorder. To support
and advise sufferers of the illness. Limited light box hire scheme.
Supply contacts list for members.
Samaritans:0845 790 90 90
0808 800 5792
Telephone advice, information and advocacy services for children
in care. Helpline for care leavers - 0808 100 3224. Visiting advocacy
service for children in secure units and other residential homes.
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Improving mental health and emotional well being.
www.cwmt.org – the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust - Awareness of the signs of depression, information and resources
www.depressioninteenagers.co.uk – An interactive site with resources for young people with depression, using self help ideas and relaxation techniques
Trained student volunteers provide emotional support to students. Operating in the night when many other university services are closed.
A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world. Support group for men with mental health issues in Abergavenny Monmouthshire, Wales. The organisation is also interested in creating dialog with women who know a man who has suffered or currently suffers from a mental health issue.
www.mind.org.uk/foodandmood - A site which explores the relationship of what you eat and how you feel
Information and support for those suffering from depression (American
Information relating to mental health, depression, stress and anxiety
www.moodgym.anu.edu.au – Online training programme using cognitive behavioural therapy for preventing depression
Lots of useful information
Day to day support service and crisis support to help reduce suicide, depression and other stress related illnesses to service users who are in need of emotional support and encouragement. Instant online support for any person who may be experiencing something in their life which they may be finding difficult to cope with. Also peer to peer support facilitated and monitored through facebook by trained admins where service users support each other through discussion, topics and open forums https://www.facebook.com/olagola
www.overcomedepression.co.uk - Depression help and advice
Self help guides under mental health leaflets on depression
site) - Online support group for people with manic depression (bipolar
www.pni.org.uk - Website set up by women who are suffering or have suffered with post natal illness, information, email support partner, chatroom
www.studentdepression.org - Site contains excellent information and help for anyone feeling depressed
Click on 'medical conditions', click on 'mental health', then 'depression'
Overcoming Depression by
Paul Gilbert - Publishers Constable & Robinson: ISBN 1841191256
Click here to read more or buy this book
Caring for someone with depression
It can be very difficult watching a loved one going through depression, seeing someone you care about suffering and often feeling helpless as to how to offer support. It may well bring up many different emotions in yourself such as frustration, anger, sadness.
Find out as much as you can about depression for yourself, which will give you a greater understanding of what your loved one is going through, which in turn will help you to support them. A depressed person can't simply just snap out of it, often it can be a slow process taking one step at a time working towards recovery. As part of their recovery they may from time to time have relapses, if they do don't get down about it as some people do have them before they make a full recovery.
A depressed person will often feel very alone and isolated with their feelings and may even feel ashamed of speaking about their depression. It is important for them to know that many of us at some time in our lives struggle with life and need support from others. It is a sign of strength, not weakness to reach out to others for help. Sometimes they might need to be alone as life is getting too much for them at that time of their recovery. If they do want some time out give them that time but try and not let them take too much time away on their own and withdraw from people if possible.
Never underestimate the importance of letting the person know you care what they are going through, you are there for them if they want to talk about anything.
Sometimes when a person is depressed they lack the enthusiasm and motivation to do anything and searching for information therefore can feel difficult to do. They may also feel that there is no help out there and that the way they feel now will be the way they will always feel, which can often lead to feelings of despair. Give them time to recover.
You can help by looking for information for them such as helplines, counselling services and information about depression and give it to them to read in their own time if they choose to. If someone is severely depressed try not to overwhelm them with too much information at once. It may be helpful to offer to go through the information with them.
Encourage the person to seek help. You can offer to go with them and give them support if they choose to go to a GP or counsellor as it may seem very daunting for them to go on their own especially if their mind is ill. However, in your concern for them to get help try to avoid putting pressure on them by telling them too often what to do.
Exercise is beneficial to anyone who is depressed, try and encourage this, ask if they would like to go out for walks with you. If they are severely depressed it may not be wise for them to go out on their own as their mind may not be functioning enough to pick up the dangers they would need to avoid to keep themselves safe.
Ask them in what ways you can support them. Sometimes asking that question may get a reply from the person you are trying to support that you personally don't agree would help them but sometimes people know themselves best and what may be right for them at that particular time.
It is important to remember it is not your responsibility to sort out their depression and you are not responsible for their happiness. Each individual has to take responsibility for their own lives, choices, decisions, happiness and fulfilment in life. Sometimes people are not ready or able to face up to their illness and not ready to get help. Sometimes sadly people will get worse before they are ready to get help for themselves. In these situations all you can do is be there to support them in whatever way you can. You cannot force another person to get help.
It is important not to allow the situation to take over your own life. Caring for someone with depression can often become all consuming to the extent that people neglect themselves and often become ill with stress because of the situation. It is important to have time for yourself, for your family, friends, leisure activities, relaxation and to have support for yourself perhaps from a friend or a local Carers Group otherwise you may feel you are becoming overwhelmed and drained by the situation.
You may have to set boundaries, you can be there to listen to them but that does not mean to the extent of everything else in your life. You are not responsible for fixing their depression, they are, and they are responsible for getting the help they need. You can support them with this and give encouragement and help where you can.
Some organisations who provide support for people with depression may also provide support for those caring for them. If you are caring for someone with severe depression it may help to seek support for yourself from a local Carers support group. (see sections on Carers, Depression and Mental Health)
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