Young Carers

I Feel Depressed

Everyone feels low or down sometimes, but if your negative emotions last a long time or feel very severe, you may have depression.

Depression is a mental health condition that makes you feel very down all the time.

Depression can happen as a reaction to something like abuse, bullying or family problems, but it can also run in families. Depression often develops alongside anxiety. 


Symptoms of Depression

Depression affects different people in different ways. The YoungMinds website lists some of the symptoms of depression as:

  • Not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed
  • Avoiding friends or social situations
  • Sleeping more or less than normal
  • Eating more or less than normal
  • Feeling irritable, upset, miserable or lonely
  • Being self-critical
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Self-harming or having suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling tired and not having any energy.

Depression is one of the most common types of mental ill health. Although it’s hard to feel hopeful when you’re depressed, there is a lot of support available to help you feel better.

Action you can take right now

Severe depression is a serious illness that can affect every aspect of your life. If you are feeling distressed, in despair, or suicidal, or if you’re self-harming, talk to your GP straight away, or phone ChildLine (if you’re 19 and under), Samaritans (if you’re over 19) or Breathing Space. Contact details for all these free helplines are given below.

If you feel your depression is not too severe, there are lots of self-help techniques you could use to help yourself feel better. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy have both been shown through research to be effective, and the podcasts and video links below provide some further information about these.

Depression is often associated with negative thoughts. Here’s an exercise that you can do to learn to retrain your mind to focus on more positive things.  There’s more information about this technique in a video from Young Scot.

Reframe your thoughts – the Gratitude Tree

This is a weekly exercise.  Do it over the course of one week. (You can start any day of the week, but the points below assumes you’ll be starting on a Monday.)

  • Draw a tree: Draw a simple tree on a piece of paper. The tree should have a trunk and some branches and some leaves on the branches.
  • Think about the things you were thankful for TODAY: At the end of each day (Monday to Saturday), write down – somewhere on the picture – 3 or 4 words (or sentences) of things that you felt thankful for that day. Try to focus on things that you might usually just forget about – maybe you got a nice text message from a friend, or you heard a song on the radio that you really love, etc. This can be anything – and it’s personal to
  • Review your tree: Spend some time on the Sunday looking at your tree and reading through all the little things in your life that week that were really positive. Focusing on these small positive things can sometimes really help when you feel overwhelmed by big problems.
  • Make it a habit: If you do this every week, you’ll have lots of pictures with your own words on them about the things that are good in your life.

More Information



  • Depression, Childline – This provides information about what depression is, how you can get help with depression, and how to cope with low moods in an ongoing way.
  • How to speak to your GP about mental health, YoungMinds – Going to your GP about your mental health can feel like a big deal. Here are some tips to make it easier and help you feel more comfortable.
  • How to talk about your feelings, Young Scot – Sometimes it feels too hard to talk about what’s going on in our heads. But it’s important that we try. Here are some ideas to help.
  • Self-harm, Childline – This provides information about why people self-harm and how to stay safe if you are hurting yourself. [Warning: this page contains information about self-harm which may bring up difficult feelings.]
  • My story of self-harm recovery, YoungMinds – One young person’s experience of recovering from self-harm. Includes a 3-minute video. [Warning: this page contains information about self-harm which may bring up difficult feelings.]



  • Make your mental health a priority, Young Scotcast (56 minutes) – Capital’s Katy J is joined by Fergus Crawley, a positive mental health advocate, who shares his personal journey and experiences of mental health while navigating university, the concept of toxic masculinity and practical tips when coping with negative thoughts and feelings. [Warning: this discussion contains references to suicide which some people may find difficult to hear.]
  • Seeking help for your mental health, CoRAY Voices, Episode 3 (24 minutes) – A podcast made by young people for young people. This one discusses with a clinical psychologist how young people can seek help with their mental health.



Where to get more help

If you’re feeling severely depressed or distressed, or if you’re self-harming or thinking of suicide, it’s important to talk to your GP right away. You are not alone, and help is available.  Don’t suffer in silence.

If you’d feel more comfortable talking to someone anonymously, there are several free helplines that you could phone to talk confidentially about how you’re feeling.

  • Childline (for children and young people under 19) (24 hours) 0800 1111 or chat to someone at Childline via webchat or email. See for further information.
  • The Mix (for young people under 25) (Monday to Saturday, 4pm – 11pm) – 0808 808 4994, or chat via email or webchat.
  • Samaritans (24 hours) – 116 123
  • Breathing Space (for people living in Scotland) (Weekdays:Monday–Thursday 6pm to 2am and Weekends: Friday 6pm–Monday 6am) – 0800 83 85 87


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