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Depression or Low Mood

People may say that they are feeling depressed when they are feeling down, but this does not always mean that they have depression. If a child is feeling low, let them know that everyone feels like this now and then and it’s ok. Let them know that they can talk to you and create time to listen. It can be helpful to help them to learn about low mood, what it is and how it works. How to start a conversation with children about mental health

What is depression?

Depression affects around 2.8% of children under the age of 13 and 5.6% of 13-18-year olds. An estimated 20% will have had one depressive episode before the age of 18.

Depression can affect different children in different ways. A child might feel any one or more of the following key symptoms:

  • feeling sad or down, the feelings do not go away or may get worse
  • feeling irritable
  • not enjoying things they previously enjoyed

Additional symptoms:

  • worried
  • tearful
  • moody
  • bored
  • tired most of the time
  • unable to concentrate
  • problems with sleep
  • eating too much or not eating enough
  • injuring or hurting oneself
  • taking uncharacteristic risks and not keeping safe
  • feeling that life is not worth living

Special characteristics in school age children:

  • aches and pains
  • not wanting to play
  • not wanting to see family and friends
  • lacking enjoyment
  • being clingy and not wanting to separate
  • extreme uncharacteristic irritability

Risk factors for developing depression:

  • bullying and problems with peers
  • being exposed to adversity including child abuse
  • death of a parent, loved one or friend
  • parents splitting up
  • school problems
  • moving away from home or country
  • other members of the family being depressed
  • having other illnesses

*The more risk factors the more likely it is that a child could become depressed.  However, support from a trusted adult can be a key protective factor.

Understanding & managing low mood and/or depression - YouTube

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Get Help Now

Here are a list of services that can help with depression or low mood. The icons below tell you the type of support available.

  • Web chat Web chat
  • Phone Phone

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)

City and County

age All Ages

  • In person In person

Nottingham City CAMHS


age Under 18

  • In person In person

Nottinghamshire County CAMHS


age Under 18

  • Directory Directory

Young Minds Professionals

City and County

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Which services can I access?

Some of the services available operate only within city or the wider county area. Pop your postcode in below to quickly check which services are available to you 

Related Topics

Here are some related mental health topics

Anxiety image

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Everyone gets anxious now and then and anxiety is actually your body giving you a message that you are not safe.

Bullying Image


Bullying is repeated behaviour intended to hurt someone emotionally or physically. Bullying is often aimed at certain people because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other aspect such as appearance or disability.

Obsessive Thoughts

Obsessions are specific thoughts that are intense and intrusive. It can feel like your thoughts are taking over and controlling your behaviour. Compulsions are ritual behaviours that people use to try to reduce anxiety linked to intrusive thoughts.

Self Harm

Self-harm, or self-injury, describes a wide range of things people deliberately do to themselves that appear to cause some kind of physical hurt. It can be very hard for parents and carers to know about - or witness - self-harming behaviour in their children.