By Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Founder and CEO stem4
A lot of people use the term ‘depressed’, but how can you tell if you are suffering from clinical depression?
- Do you overthink things; have negative thoughts and experience repetitive thinking?
- Are you experiencing difficulties sleeping or major changes to your sleep habits?
- Has your appetite changed, either going off your food or binge eating?
- Have you lost interest in things that you love?
- Are you less active?
- Are you feeling constantly tearful or numb and distant from others?
- Are you hurting yourself?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, we recommend you see a mental health professional for their accurate assessment and diagnosis.
Depression often traps you in a negative spiral. It tends to affect mood negatively and this in turn, makes it difficult to think positively or to behave in ways that help you to get the best out of life. Depression can affect your concentration and memory and this may affect your learning. It can make it hard to be sociable, often leading to loneliness. Depression can make it hard to keep trying and ultimately affects motivation and making change.
Take steps to make a positive change – here’s some things you can do:
- Eat a balanced diet and eat regularly
- Get into healthy sleep patterns – around 8 hours a night and avoiding catching up on lost sleep during the day
- Follow an exercise schedule – half an hour a day makes a difference
- Draw up an activity schedule of regular things to do every day
- Increase your social contact by planning to connect with at least one person a day
- Keep a mood diary – note down your negative thoughts to see if you might be able to check out if they are valid
- Talk to someone you trust such as a friend, family member or school staff member. Emotions don’t work well when buried
- See a mental health professional by going through your GP as there are lots of very effective treatments
- Check recommended apps to help depression on NHS Choices
- Visit your GP by phoning your local practice and booking an appointment (check if you can book it with their mental health lead). Go ready to discuss your concerns and the problems you are experiencing. You can always take your mood diary with you to help this process or write down what you want to discuss
- Treatment often includes talking therapies that focus on thoughts and behaviours relating to depression, for example, a treatment called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and occasionally medication
Organisations that can provide help include:
stem4 – our website has lots of evidence-based information on depression for teens – visit our section on Depression & Anxiety
Mind – provides advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – support men in the UK, of any age, who are down or in crisis via their helpline, webchat and website – 0800 58 58 58.
Samaritans – offer a safe place for you to talk about whatever is bothering you – call free anytime on 116 123.