I’m finding it hard to get out of bed and feel like I can’t face the world.  Do you think I have depression?

This sounds really difficult for you.  It is very common for people to go through periods of low mood, particularly if there have been numerous stresses in your life.  Normally we cycle out of these periods, or something changes and we get back to feeling ourselves again.  However, sometimes the feeling you have described doesn’t lift.  If you have been feeling this way for 4-6 weeks and you have noticed some other changes like

  • loss or increase in appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling low or irritable
  • loss of interest or enjoyment in almost all activities
  • feeling very tired and lacking in energy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling of worthlessness and even thoughts of death

then you should seek help from your GP immediately and talk to someone you trust.  The following websites also have some good information…

Do I need a referral to get help?

There are many sources of support out there and lots of them are free and easily accessible on the internet.  These are trusted sites…  You might want to try seeking support from a local counselling service or organisation such as Young Minds.  If you have tried some self-help or feel too unwell to do this alone then speak to your GP who can advise you on whether you need a referral to your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.  He or she will be able to make this referral for you or even a trusted adult at your school/college.

I’ve recently lost someone and I’m finding it hard to cope.

I’m so sorry.  Losing someone you love is incredibly painful and there is no easy way to grieve.  It is entirely normal to feel a rollercoaster of emotions after the death of someone, and beyond.  We all grieve at our own pace and we can move between feeling very sad one moment to almost ‘forgetting’ in the next.  There are some really good organisations out there to support young people through their grief www.winstonswish.org.uk and www.childbereavementuk.org .  Please know that it is possible to keep going after the loss of a loved one and that with support you can feel able to cope and enjoy life again.

Recently I’ve started hurting myself.  I feel I can’t tell anyone but I don’t know how to stop.

Recent research suggests that more than a third (36%) of young people in Britain have self-harmed at some point in their lives.  You are not alone in finding it very hard to talk about.  People often self-harm because it provides them with a feeling of relief.  The first step is to find someone you trust to talk to about it and if you can’t do this then you can confide in your GP.  Self-harm is a behaviour that sometimes goes away by itself but it can be a sign of another problem that you may need more help with, such as depression or anxiety.  Your GP will be able to find the right people to help you with this


Can you prevent mental health problems?

We can all experience difficulties in our lives which might challenge and put stress on our mental health.  We know that looking after ourselves both physically and mentally, developing resilience, seeking help early and having a good support network (family and friends to confide in) can help to prevent difficulties from becoming more serious. 

Lots of people in my family have had depression/anxiety, does that mean I will get it too?

No it doesn’t. Your chances of developing depression may be slightly increased compared to someone your age with no family history of this illness BUT depression isn’t like a virus that you can ‘catch’.  Many other factors make a difference – we call these ‘protective factors’.  These can depend on your personality traits, your ability to deal with challenges and the friends and family support you have around you.  Even factors such as whether you enjoy school and have teachers you trust can play a part in preventing depression and anxiety from occurring.

My heart is racing, my stomach hurts and I can’t concentrate on my school work.  Do I have an illness?

What you are describing are some of the symptoms that can occur in our bodies when we are worried/anxious.  There are very good reasons why your body feels uncomfortable, your alarm system in your brain is telling you that there is something to be worried about and so it is getting your body ready to fight, run away or to hide.  We call this the ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response. This alarm system is really helpful to us. It is this alarm system that tells your body to pull your hand back before you have even registered than an object is hot. Unfortunately, some of us have overeager alarm systems that send our bodies into this anxious state when there is no danger.  There are lots of things that can help to calm it down though including relaxation and breathing exercises and trying to work out what ‘sets off’ your alarm.