Depression in children and young
Factsheet for young people

About this factsheet
This is one in a series of factsheets for parents, teachers andyoung people entitled Mental Health and Growing Up. The aimsof these factsheets are to provide practical, up-to-dateinformation about mental health problems (emotional,behavioural and psychiatric disorders) that can affect childrenand young people. This factsheet looks at how to recognisedepression, and what you can do to help yourself or someoneelse who is suffering from depression.
that you are depressed. You may find it verydifficult to talk about how you are feeling.
What is depression?
Most people, children as well as adults, feel low What causes depression?
or ‘blue’ occasionally. Feeling sad is a normal Depression is usually caused by a mixture of reaction to experiences that are stressful or things, rather than any one thing alone.
Events or personal experiences can be a
dominate and interfere with your whole life, it trigger. These include family breakdown, the can become an illness. This illness is called death or loss of a loved one, neglect, abuse, bul- ‘depression’. Depression probably affects one in lying and physical illness. Depression can also every 200 children under 12 years old and two be triggered if too many changes happen in your Risk factors People are more at risk of becoming
What are the signs of depression?
depressed if they are under a lot of stress, have • Being moody and irritable – easily upset, ‘ratty’ no one to share their worries with, and lack • Becoming withdrawn – avoiding friends, family Biological factors Depression may run in
families due to genetic factors. It is also more • Feeling guilty or bad, being self-critical and common in girls and women compared to boys.
• Feeling unhappy, miserable and lonely a lot of Depression seems to be linked with chemical changes in the part of brain that controls mood.
These changes prevent normal functioning of thebrain and cause many of the symptoms of • Not looking after your personal appearance• Changes in sleep pattern: sleeping too little or Where can I get help?
There are a lot of things that can be done to help • Frequent minor health problems, such as Helping yourself
you trust, and who you feel understands, can • Some people believe they are ugly, guilty and lighten the burden. It can also make it easier to work out practical solutions to problems. For If you have all or most of these signs and have example, if you are stressed out by exams, you had them over a long period of time, it may mean should talk to your teacher or school counsellor.
MENTAL HEALTH AND GROWING UP FACTSHEET 34 If you are worried about being pregnant, you young people under the age of 18 and should should go and see your general practitioner or only be used by child and adolescent psychiatrists, family planning clinic. Here are some things to after a careful assessment. Weekly monitoring of how the young person is feeling will happen in the first 4 weeks, and then regularly after that.
• keep as active and occupied as possible, but • you are not alone – depression is a common Sources of further information
• ‘Changing Minds: Mental Health: What it is, What to do, Where to go?’ A multi-media How parents and teachers can help
It can be very hard for young people to put their depression. www.changingminds.co.uk.
feelings into words. You can help by asking • Childline provides a free and confidential sympathetically how they are feeling, and telephone service for children. Helpline: 0800 • The Samaritans provide a 24-hour service When specialist help is needed
offering confidential emotional support toanyone who is in crisis. Helplines 08457 909090 If the depression is dragging on and causing serious difficulties, it’s important to seek jo@samaritans.org; www.samaritans.org.uk.
treatment. Your general practitioner will be ableto advise you about what help is available and to • YoungMinds provides information and advice arrange a referral to the local child and Many young people will get better on their own with support and understanding. For thosewhose symptoms are severe and persistent, the Or you may want to look at these websites:
National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE; www.nice.org.uk) recommends that the young person is treated initially with a psychological therapy, such as cognitive–behavioural therapy
• The Mental Health and Growing Up series (CBT) for 3 months. CBT is a type of talking
contains 36 factsheets on a range of common treatment that helps someone understand their mental health problems. To order the pack, thoughts, feelings and behaviour (see Royal contact Book Sales at the Royal College of College of Psychiatrists Factsheet on CBT; Psychiatrists, 17 Belgrave Square, London www.rcpsych.ac.uk/info/factsheets/pfaccog.asp).
Antidepressant medication should only be
used with a psychological therapy such as CBT.
Antidepressant medication needs to be taken download them from www.rcpsych.ac.uk.
for 6 months after the young person feels better.
Mild depression should not be treated withantidepressants, but instead with general help and References
support (see Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Carr, A. (ed.) (2000) What Works with Children and Factsheet on antidepressants; www.rcpsych.ac.uk).
Adolescents? A Critical Review of Psychological There is evidence that some antidepressants Interventions with Children, Adolescents and their called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake Families. London: Brunner-Routledge.
inhibitors) can increase thoughts of suicide. For Rutter, M. & Taylor, E. (eds) (2002) Child and Adolescent this age group, fluoxetine, which is an SSRI Psychiatry (4th edn). London: Blackwell.
Scott, A., Shaw, M. & Joughin, C. (eds) (2001) Finding the antidepressant, can be used and research has Evidence: A Gateway to the Literature in Child and shown that the benefits outweigh the risks. None Adolescent Mental Health (2nd edn). London: Gaskell.
of the antidepressants are licensed for use in 2005 Royal College of Psychiatrists. These factsheets may be photocopied and distributed free of charge as long as the RoyalCollege of Psychiatrists is properly credited and no profit is gained from their use. They must be reproduced in their entiretywithout alteration. Permission to reproduce in print or to repost on the web must be obtained from the Head of Publications.

Source: http://www.wpp-practice.co.uk/resources/Depression_4_yp.pdf


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