Depression and low mood

Social life

Here young people talk about their social lives and whether they felt depression had affected going out, their hobbies and interests. For many, keeping active had been key to coping with depression, or keeping it a bay, but at the same time, socialising had been hard or impossible during bad episodes. For a couple of people, losing previously active social lives had been a major factor leading to their low moods. Those people not in education or working described their daily routines as “boring” and “always the same”.

Some said initially when they were diagnosed with depression, their social life had gone down, but with time and their growing confidence it had improved. A couple of people said their social life now was the “best it’s ever been”.

Being active
 
Many people said being active was one of the most helpful coping strategies – See ‘Self help & coping strategies’. For many, social life focussed around college or university, hanging out with housemates or people from work. Many enjoyed going to the pubs, partying and clubbing, and alcohol was a part of their social life - see ‘Alcohol, recreational drugs and depression’.

Some had found friends who were on the same wavelength, and activities they enjoyed outside of school, studies or where they lived. A few did voluntary work, attended evening classes or courses or had joined university clubs and societies.

People said keeping busy helped them keep their minds stimulated and gave them a sense of achievement. One man said he joined the local Royal Navy to deliberately “get out of my comfort zone” and “push boundaries”.

“It’s too much effort”

A few people said they much more preferred their own space and found social life a struggle. A couple of people had “grown out” of drinking and going to pubs and preferred something more low key.
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For many, going out and socialising wasn’t always straightforward. Because of their tendency to get anxious or overanalyse, unknown situations could become a “huge effort”. One man said he’d go over endless possibilities and worst case scenarios of what might happen, before going out, and often ended up feeling there were “more cons than pros” and stayed in. One woman said she “hates socialising” because it brings out her “over analytical thought patterns”. Her eating disorder added to her discomfort about eating out. Another woman said she liked doing things her own way as other people could “get too much” sometimes;
 
“[Quality time is] wandering around town by myself, or having the house to myself, or being in my room on my own. ‘Cos like sometimes I feel like I need a break from people, like I sometimes find people can be a bit much, the company of others.”
Social pressures
 
Some young people talked about social pressures they felt to join in peer groups, even if they didn’t feel like it. People felt they had to explain themselves for not wanting to drink alcohol, go to parties or enjoy large groups of people. Some people preferred sports, focusing on their studies or spending time with family to going out. People said that during depressive episodes they often felt unable to do anything social and felt their friends didn’t really understand why it was difficult for them – see ‘Friends and relationships’. A couple of people they rather put up a front in social situations or “fake confidence”. A couple of people said they kept making excuses so they didn’t have to go out. One man said whenever he felt down he’d “hide away” from people for days.

Last reviewed June 2017.

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