Depression (low mood)

People often say “I’m so depressed” when they’re having a bad day or week, but depression is different from feeling sad, down or ‘can’t be bothered’.

Depression is a mental health difficulty that involves persistent low mood (continuing for a long time). It impacts on the way people feel, think and behave. Depression can happen as a reaction to difficult experiences such as bullying, bereavement or family relationship difficulties. It can also happen without any obvious trigger or reason.

People with depression can feel a range of emotions including sadness, stress, hopelessness, loneliness, irritability (anger), emptiness or numbness. People with depression often have negative thoughts about themselves, other people, the future or life in general. It can be hard to carry out usual routines and tasks including self-care (showering/ brushing your teeth), eating and sleeping.

People with depression often stop enjoying activities or seeing friends as they can feel tired and have no energy or motivation. People with severe depression, and/or depression that has been going on for a long time, sometimes have thoughts or urges to harm themselves or to end their lives. It is important to tell someone so that a safety plan that supports the person not to act on these thoughts can be put in place.

Depression isn’t something people can ‘snap out of’ or simply ‘cheer up’ from. It is more than just having a bad day or week, it’s a medical condition that can affect many aspects of a person’s life. The good news is that depression is treatable and people can recover.

Top Tips

It is important to tell someone how you are feeling so that you are not alone. You could talk to a parent/ carer, teacher, health professional (school nurse or your GP). This is particularly important if you are having thoughts or urges to harm yourself or end your life.

If you are feeling unsafe or in crisis, see the ‘Help I’m in Crisis’ section.


Following a basic daily routine and making sure that you still do the activities you need to do and do some other activities that you used to enjoy but have perhaps stopped doing because you are feeling depressed. Plan activities for the morning, afternoon and evening and try to stick to these even if you do not feel like it. Avoiding or withdrawing from activity is known to lower mood so make sure that you see friends, go to school/ college, do things you enjoy (or used to).


Look after yourself; eat well, sleep, get some fresh air daily, do exercise and avoid self-medication (for example using alcohol, drugs or caffeine).


YoungMinds crisis messenger

This service provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, you can text YM to 85258.

They will listen to you and help you think through how you’re feeling, and will aim to help you take the next steps towards feeling better.

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.


  • I had a black dog, his name was depression - credit World Health Organization (1 of 2 films)
  • I had a black dog, his name was depression - credit World Health Organization (1 of 2 films)