Depression is more than feeling sad or down for a few days – it is a real illness with very real symptoms.

Studies have shown that about 4% of children aged 5-16 in the UK are anxious or depressed. Depression can be a very serious issue for young people, but the good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.

So many of the challenges that young people face can impact on mood, including relationship difficulties, falling out with friends, bullying, difficulties at home, hormone changes and low self-esteem, so it is important to distinguish between low mood and signs of a more serious mental health difficulty when establishing whether someone is clinically depressed.

Symptoms of depression

When you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Depression can affect people in different ways, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe, but typical symptoms are a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, reduced energy/increased tiredness and low mood. Further common symptoms include:

  • Reduced concentration and attention
  • Reduced self-esteem and confidence
  • Ideas of guilt
  • Bleak and pessimistic views of the future
  • Ideas or acts of self-harm or attempted suicide
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Reduced appetite
  • Agitation
  • A feeling of being slowed down (psychomotor retardation).

Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety. Find out more about depression and how CAMHS and others can help below.