Type and nature of mood issue
Episodes of low mood/ depression are severe and enduring. These cause significant distress to a young person and significantly disrupt daily coping such as school/ college, socialising and even self-care activities (e.g., sleep, bathing, eating). Despite trying advice in the green and amber stages, the young person still experiences depression symptoms. Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person feeling low in mood or depressed:
- Chronic bullying or abuse (including neglect, emotional, physical, sexual)
- Social or family financial stressors (such as family breakdown, conflict or parental/ sibling ill-health)
- Grief or loss
- Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event
- Overwhelmed by pressures and stressors including individual factors e.g., health, social factors e.g., relationships, occupational factors e.g., school/ college and environment e.g., living circumstances
Please note, there are occasions when there is no apparent trigger/ cause/ contributory factor as to why a young person may be experiencing episodes of low mood/ depression. A young person can still be acutely depressed without clear reason.
What you might see or a young person might report
As well as the features in Green and Amber, the following might also be present:
- Isolating self from friends and family
- Withdrawn and uncommunicative or not wanting to be left alone at all- this may seem uncharacteristic or age inappropriate for some teenagers
- Refusal to leave the house or attend/ take part in activities such as school, hobbies, interests, seeing friends
- Significant impact on health and wellbeing such as not sleeping or eating for a sustained period of time. May show signs of physical compromise as a result.
- Appearing uncaring or unbothered about people or activities they previously would have cared about- may not honour commitments or responsibilities which is uncharacteristic
- Lack of insight or awareness that others may be concerned- this may lead to arguments or conflict at home
- May on occasion becoming agitated, distressed, oppositional or aggressive towards others
- Reactive and impulsive behaviour such as running away which may place them or others in danger
- Feeling hopeless about the future- not being able to see a future and appearing to give up on dreams, goals and hopes
- Thoughts, feelings, urges, plans or intent to harm self or end their life or harm others. Please note that not all young people who engage in self-harm behaviour are depressed or suicidal. There are many reasons why a young person may engage in self-harm behaviour.
Things to try, support and Next Steps
As well as the steps in Green and Amber the following might be helpful:
- Speak with your child’s GP
- Speak with the School Nursing Team
- Depending on the context and/ or the origins of the low mood/ depression being experienced, other services may be helpful. There may be a role for other services such as Children’s Services or other statutory or voluntary organisations that can support if there are clear triggers for anxiety e.g., abuse, domestic violence, bullying, being a young carer etc.
- Seek advice, guidance and support from Young Minds Parent Helpline:
- Access the “Help I’m in Crisis” Button on our website during times of stress
- Consider making a self-referral to a CAMHS Service. If your young person is at risk of harm, please make this clear when making the referral.
- Stuff That Sucks, by Ben Edley
- Am I Depressed? And What Can I Do About It? by Shirley Reynolds and Monika Parkinson
- Beyond The Blues; A Workbook To Help Teens Overcome Depression, by Lisa Schab
- Stopping The Pain; A Workbook For Young People Who Cut and Self-Injure, by Lawrence Shapiro