Monday, 10 June 2013


Feeling Down
Depression is a word that gets used a lot but while its a useful generalisation it conceals a wide range of very different states of mind. Most people feel low at times- its part of being human. These times can be very brief or they can become prolonged and recurring. If feeling low, weepy, hopeless, frightened, and anxious is a regular experience then you are depressed and there are ways of coping and a lot of help available. The tricky thing about depression is that it makes you feel unable to seek help or even admit your feelings to others. This is normal.

But a chance may come along that enables you to say something to somebody, or relate to another person suffering depression, or to acknowledge to another person how you feel. Not telling your parent/s is common - you are trying to protect them from the awful feelings inside you, but try not to worry- they are tougher than you imagine and most will want to help. Admitting you are feeling depressed is a first and very brave step. You already know who you can trust and who you feel safe with to discuss sensitive issues, so start with them.

The provision of treatment for children and young people who get depressed is significantly limited by public stigma, our
failure to detect or recognise depression, and the way that services are organised for young people. There is little doubt that children and young people are often unwilling to seek help because of the stigma associated with mental health problems. Moreover, the heterogeneity in the nature, course, and outcomes of depression in all age groups is likely to lead to poor recognition, especially amongst healthcare professionals in schools and community and primary care settings.

All this is made all the more complicated by the considerable variation in the local organisation of mental health services for children and young people. In any event, studies both in the UK and the USA have estimated that as many as 75% of children and adolescents with a clinically identifiable mood disorder remain undetected in the community.

There are self-help groups, books, magazine articles, drop-in centres, and informal places where sympathetic staff can help. Your GP, School Nurse, or College Counsellor might be helpful. See what feels right for you. You will be offered medication and counselling/therapy. These are the main options based on evidence of what works. You are unique so getting the right mix of medication and talking in confidence with someone may take a while to get right for you. What works for one person may not work for another.

You may even feel that you don't need outside help, or that taking more physical exercise works for you. You may decide to change some aspects of your lifestyle - less alcohol and drugs, less smoking or changing your eating habits. Making a new friend might make a difference. Sometimes small changes make a big difference. Experiment!