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Depression in young people

Telling the difference between normal sadness and depression is difficult.

Everyone goes through tough times at different points in their lives. Feeling sad or fed up is a normal reaction to these experiences. At other times you may feel sad or fed up for no obvious reason.

Anybody can suffer from depression.

Sadness or depression

Telling the difference between normal sadness and depression is difficult.

It's important to identify:

  • how long the emotions and behaviour have lasted
  • are the emotions there all the time or coming and going
  • are these feelings having an impact on your son or daughter’s daily life

Sadness or overtiredness, for more than two weeks, can indicate depression.

Longer-lasting depression

Clinical depression describes more severe, longer-lasting feelings of sadness or low mood.

You will have a combination of some of the following:

  • depressed mood most of the day
  • changes in sleeping pattern
  • weight changes
  • reduced energy
  • excessive feelings of guilt
  • poor concentration
  • thoughts of death or loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities

Clinical depression can first appear in adolescence or early adulthood.

One in every five adolescents are likely to experience a depressive episode by the age of 18. The depression is most likely to be mild to moderate and would not usually require medication.

Related topics

How to help someone with depression

Supports for young people

Page last reviewed: 18/10/2018
Next review due: 18/10/2021

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