Feeling sad or low in mood is a natural state of emotion that everyone has at times. Life is often challenging, and experiences, circumstances and events can cause people to feel low.
Low mood can also happen for no obvious reason. Low mood stays and gets worse often because of unhelpful thoughts and behaviour like avoidance and withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities. If this goes on for too long and it impacts many areas of our lives, we can become depressed.
Now showing: Video 1 of 1
Video description: Why are our thoughts often so negative?!
Now showing: Video 1 of 8
Video description: Monsters on a Boat
Video description: I had a black dog, his name was depression - credit World Health Organization
Video description: Supporting a young person with depression in crisis who may self-harm
Video description: A-Z Coping Strategy
Video description: Coping box
Video description: Guided Mindfulness: Passing Clouds - Dr Natalie Roberts
Video description: Guided Mindfulness: Leaves on a Stream
Video description: Self Compassion
Do this activity with your child to show them how our minds have developed to be busy all the time:
Let your mind do its’ thing:
Set a timer for 2 minutes
Notice your thoughts. Even if your mind says, ‘I’m not doing this properly’, or ‘Nothing is happening, I’m not having any thoughts’.
Jot down briefly what comes into your mind during the minute
After 2 minutes
Take a look at what you wrote. What do you notice? Was it just a random jumble of thoughts or are you preoccupied with something? Were they profound life changing things or do you now know what you are having for dinner? Just notice.
The function of the mind is to pump out thoughts, like the heart pumps blood around the body.
The mind does not know what is helpful or unhelpful, so it pumps out lots of different thoughts. The ones we engage with tells our mind what thoughts we think are important and it gives us more of those kind of thoughts. So if we engage with self-critical thoughts, our mind thinks that must be important and will give us more of them.
Have a look at this video for more information on how to deal with unhelpful thoughts and feelings.
Many situations can be improved by problem solving
• Life is challenging and we will all experience pain.
• Sadness is an inevitable and healthy part of life
• Low mood is normal in situations where people are under stress or have had a difficult life event. We will recover when the stress is over or the difficult life event has been processed if we are able to maintain self-care, connection and activity during these times.
• If a person does not recover from a depressed state over the course of a few weeks more help can be sought through primary care services and CAMHS where psychological therapy and / or medication may be needed.
It is important to encourage the person to tell someone how they are feeling. They need a trusted adult that they can talk to: parent/ carer, teacher, health professional (school nurse or your GP). This is particularly important if they are having thoughts or urges to harm themselves.
Make sure that they follow a basic daily routine and making sure that they still do the activities they need to do and do some other activities that they used to enjoy but have perhaps stopped doing because they are feeling depressed. Help them to plan activities for the morning, afternoon and evening and try to stick to these even if they do not feel like it. Avoiding or withdrawing from activity is known to lower mood so make sure that they see friends, go to school/ college, do things they enjoy (or used to).
Encourage them to look after themselves; eating well, getting enough sleep , getting some fresh air daily, doing exercise and avoiding self-medication (for example using alcohol, drugs or caffeine).
This service provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If your child is experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, they can text YM to 85258.
They will listen to them and help them think through how they're feeling, and will aim to help them take the next steps towards feeling better.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
If you live in Hampshire or on the Isle of Wight, the NHS 111 mental health triage service can provides advice, support and guidance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Mental Health Triage Team has a wide range of skills, including on the phone brief psychological support and has access to key services and organisations that can offer mental health support to you and your child in your time of need. Just dial 111 or online at www.111.nhs.uk.
Coping / needs support; These are experiences that most young people will have from time to time.
Type and nature of mood issue
It is common for children and young people to experience episodes of feeling sad, low or down as they develop through childhood and adolescence. Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person to feel down or low in mood might be:
What you might see or a young person might report
Things to try, support and Next Steps
A-Z of coping strategies: https://youtu.be/5EXpkVw3fh
Needs help; These are challenges that some young people experience and may need some support with
Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person feeling low in mood or depressed:
Please note, there are occasions when there is no apparent trigger/ cause/ contributory factor as to why a young person may be experiencing episodes of low mood/ depression. A young person can still be low in mood without clear reason.
What you might see or a young person might report
As well as the features in Green, the following might also be present:
Please note that not all young people who engage in self-harm behaviour are depressed or suicidal. There are many reasons why a young person may engage in self-harm behaviour.
As well as the steps in Green the following might be helpful:
Needs Specialist Treatment or a Crisis Response; These are difficulties that cause a significant impact and a young person may need specialist support.
Episodes of low mood/ depression are very serious. These cause significant distress to a young person and significantly disrupt daily coping such as school/ college, socialising and even self-care activities (e.g., sleep, bathing, eating). Examples of situations that may cause/ contribute to a young person feeling low in mood or depressed:
Please note, there are occasions when there is no apparent trigger/ cause/ contributory factor as to why a young person may be experiencing episodes of low mood/ depression. A young person can still be acutely depressed without clear reason.
As well as the features in Green and Amber, the following might also be present:
As well as the steps in Green and Amber the following might be helpful: