There must be few people who always feel good about themselves and are completely satisfied with their lives. For others life is more of a struggle. At times they feel complete despair. It is this last group who can be said to be depressed.

sDisliking or even hating yourself.


Disliking or hating people in general.

sBeing preoccupied with negative thoughts and seeing the worst in everything.

sRather than feeling alive with anger or grief you are more likely to feel numb,

empty and despondent.

sBlaming yourself and feeling unnecessarily guilty about things.

sFinding it is an effort to do the simplest tasks. This can include difficulties with

concentration and making decisions, even about the smallest things.

sYour sleep pattern in likely to change. You may wake up early in the mornings

and not be able to go back to sleep for longer than usual. Similarly with eating.

You may stuff yourself with food and put on weight, or not bother to eat

properly and lose weight.

sUsing more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual.

sCutting yourself off from others rather than asking for help.

In its mildest form depression does not stop you from leading your normal life, but it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe it is life-threatening. you may feel like killing yourself or simply give up trying to live. Manic depression is a condition which causes people to have episodes of depression and of mania. Mania is highly excited and uncontrolled behaviour.

What happened to you when you were a child can have a big effect on how you feel about yourself now. The attitude of parents is particularly important. Did they tell you they loved you and show it by holding and cuddling you? Did they help you to learn new skills by encouraging rather than criticising you? Wider influences are also important: teachers, other children, TV programmes Changes to your life which involve loss can cause depression: bereavement, divorce, losing your job and so on. You are more likely to become and stay depressed if you stop yourself expressing feelings and cut yourself off from people. There is no good about reaching for a drink or a cigarette to dampen down your feelings. Depression can also have physical causes. Physical and mental health are closely linked. Poor diet, lack of physical fitness, changes in the balance of hormones, lack of daylight and drug abuse can also contribute to depression.

Depression has two important characteristics. It can feed on itself: you get depressed and then you get more depressed about being depressed. It can occupy enormous amounts of your time and attention. Being in a state of depression can then itself become a bigger problem than the difficulties which caused it in the first place. Dwelling on difficulties does not help you to solve them.

sFind things to do that are so interesting to you that you forget that you are


sStop being over-concerned with what goes on in your head. Be physical!

sDo anything which will make you laugh.

sLook after yourself physically. Do not abuse your body with drugs, eat well and

get exercise. Pay attention to your appearance.

sTry to take a break from you usual routine.

sAsk for help. Other people can listen and help you think things through.

Act rather than be passive. Do not sit on your feelings: If you need to cry, cry.

You may not realise it, but mental illness is as common as heart disease, and

three times as common as cancer.

Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable, what with the pressure of exams,

bullying, first-time sex, self-esteem crisis and family hassles. But there is

nothing to be ashamed of.

I watched it bleed, and all the tension flooded out of my body. I transferred

mental pain to body. The physical sensation distracted me from my emotions

and I felt loads better afterwards.

Whenever anything got on top of me. I have always had trouble getting rid of

anger, so cutting myself seemed to be the only way to make the bad feelings

go away. I became lost in a deep depression. The whole base had been torn

away. I had gone from being happy and outgoing to introverted and depressed.

I just couldn't pull myself together.

I have got nothing to look forward to. What's the point of living any more? I

couldn't see the point in going on.

At that point I just had a wall around me that people couldn't get through. I

didn't want to burden my family with any of my problems.

Asking for help, from a friend or trained counsellor, is not a sign of weakness

but of strength.

Don't bottle up your feelings. Talk to someone you trust. If you can't shake

your sadness, seek help.

Identify the cause of you unhappiness.

Problems with drugs, drinks, eating or sex are often attempts to escape deeper


Suicide will destroy your family and friends - not to mention you one,

precious shot at life.

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