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Depression and low mood (young people)

Self-help and coping strategies for depression and low mood

Young people we spoke with talked about the different coping strategies they had developed or discovered to help them deal with depression or their low moods. Here we describe the strategies people used in a particular situation or during a depressive episode. We also cover experiences of recovery from depression in our section on ‘Getting Better’,

Being creative
Different ways of being creative and expressing oneself were among the most helpful strategies for people. Music and writing were the main sources of comfort, excitement, “offloading” or relaxation for many. Many found that listening to music, writing and playing music, going to gigs and concerts helped them when they were feeling low, angry or just bored. One woman felt that listening to music could trigger negative feelings so she was careful about what music she listened to and when.

 

“Hardcore music on full blast” helps Stacey to chill out. People can tell how annoyed she is by...

“Hardcore music on full blast” helps Stacey to chill out. People can tell how annoyed she is by...

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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Music, music helps me out, loud music. I’ll shut the door, music on full blast, just chill; have a fag, just chill. Or if I’m really angry and I’m just, you know when you’re just in a mood, I’ll storm out and I’ll go for a walk. Just a walk on my own, with my phone and my music, do you know what I mean? My music’s everything to me. Do you know what I mean, you can tell when I’m annoyed, because my music goes straight up. But like just, not for long, it just goes loud until I cool down and then I put it to a normal level and then I’ll have a tidy up or I’ll, or whatever, go in the shower, or just chill, or whatever, yeah. Just depends on how I’m feeling and what I’m, what I’m annoyed about.
 
What kind of music do you listen to?
 
Anything on there, anything. I like hardcore, niche, and DG and things like that. Anything really.

Several people kept a diary about their lives and noted down their feelings on a daily basis. They said this was a good way to offload their feelings and many preferred the privacy of expressing themselves through writing rather than talking to others. One woman said it was helpful to read her notes afterwards and appreciate that things perhaps weren’t as bad as she’d felt at the time of writing. A couple of people had been writing down their life story over a longer period of time and one woman had published an autobiography about her life with depression and addiction. Some wrote fiction and poetry and described writing as a way to express their feelings in a different way.
 

Reading back over her journals makes Blondel realise “life isn’t that bad”.

Reading back over her journals makes Blondel realise “life isn’t that bad”.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
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The written word’s become quite important to me. It’s become you know a good way of expressing my emotions and you know to come across what, what’s gone on in my life. I’ve managed to you know work through it by calculating every you know, my life story, if you want, I’ll sort of write everything on my laptop, you know, just my experiences, and you know how they’ve made me feel, and it’s helpful, it’s helpful and I just sort of, also as well times where I’m having you know when I’m having a bad day, I think with depression sometimes life can feel so bleak anyway but sometimes when I’ve re-read over what I’ve wrote it’s largely exaggerated, ‘cos I think when you’re feeling.
 
When you’re feeling depressed I just think everything’s bad, do you know what I mean? You just can’t look at life or anything objectively. Everything’s you know bleak and dark and horrible, and sometimes it actually makes me laugh when I, you know, when I’ve read back what I’ve wrote and I actually think, “Well you know, life isn’t that bad.” You know, so it does, it helps in that way because I learn from it, I learn from what I wrote, I learn from what I was thinking and feeling at the time.
 

Ruby has written an autobiographical book ‘Accidental Recklessness’. She says it covers “deep...

Ruby has written an autobiographical book ‘Accidental Recklessness’. She says it covers “deep...

Age at interview: 27
Sex: Female
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It’s [autobiography] called “Accidental Recklessness.” Because I like to think that I didn’t mean to do any of it [laughs]. And if my Mum asks it’s completely fictional. Yes it’s about how not to grow up, it’s certainly not an autobiography or memoir in the sense that I have any worldly wisdom to pass on, it’s more my experiences, a lot of it’s quite tongue in cheek, but then I think when you’ve been through something you’re allowed to take the piss out of yourself you know. It’s basically just the sequence of events, and looking at them like, certainly not laughing at, at the actual thing, but laughing at how I was. But you know but laughing with how I was, do you know what I mean so it’s not like a big, “Oh I was so stupid, ha ha ha.” No it’s more like just like, “Oh my God, you’re not going to believe what I did this,” you know like, “What was I thinking?” kind of thing. It’s much more silly, not so silly. I’ve got told it was kind of like Elizabeth Wordsworth meets Bill Bryson, lots of depression, but lots of slightly cynical remarks. So.
 
But like every, you know everyone’s kind of said, it’s about how it’s really funny and stuff like that, I mean it’s obviously like really deep dark subjects going on in there, but I certainly don’t take myself seriously, like some of the stuff that’s on the market at the moment, of the, “How did I ever survive?” It’s like, “What?” Like, ‘cos I know that in many, many ways I’m incredibly lucky, so, you know like, you can’t, I kind of wrote the book whilst remembering that in many, many ways I’m very lucky, so how seriously can you take this, you know?
 
And I’m not saying it shouldn’t be taken seriously, some of the stuff that’s in the book, but like, it’s with a knowing wry smile kind of thing I think, well actually I did okay, you know. It’s the survived to tell the tale, so you might as well tell a funny tale, you know. ‘Cos at the end of the day you’re still here then you’ve done something okay haven’t you?

For a few people writing had been a more rational and logical way to help them organise their feelings and to try and change their thought patterns and dissolve their fears and anxieties. This was similar to the methods some had learnt in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
 

Tom got through the initial period of depression and anxiety by writing down his “worst fears”...

Tom got through the initial period of depression and anxiety by writing down his “worst fears”...

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
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Write you know your worst fears during anxiety, whatever you, you know my case is you know related to like that, you know the experience of your perception changes and you’re just like, “This isn’t real.” Whereas other people could be experiencing different types of anxiety. I don’t know, like they’re gonna die, or they’re gonna, you know, things like that are probably a common one or whatever. So just put your worst fears on one side of the paper and then put what you can describe to be a logical outcome, what is likely to happen. You know what society says is gonna happen. People, you trust are gonna say will happen, your GP, family and friends or whatever, so then write it down and then you know you might want to show your GP that, and confirm, again reiterate why it’s logical for the left hand side to be right. You know you’re, the likely things that are gonna happen,
 
And then, you know, you’ll then look at the right hand side and think yeah it is illogical and it’s silly and I need to, whenever, whenever I get these feelings, get the list out, and just associate a you know positive side, people that you trust, past experiences of people, you know and case studies, so they got through it and stuff, so that’s how I cope with it, for the initial period.

In addition to writing and listening to music, people listed reading, painting, drawing and watching films as helpful when they were feeling low or trying to “distract” their minds.

A couple of men drew cartoons and animations. Being creative by writing a poem or drawing and painting was not only a way to express themselves and release pressures but could also give people a sense of achievement.
 

Making art helps Sarah to feel she’s doing something constructive rather than just “going at my...

Making art helps Sarah to feel she’s doing something constructive rather than just “going at my...

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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If something’s going like horrifically wrong I’ll sort of like, I’ll dive into my work like. I’ll like really go headlong and just sit for ages and do my college work. And if I’ve got none of the work I’ll sort of sit in my room and I’ll just get my paints out and I’ll just sit and paint for hours and hours and hours. I’ll paint till sort of half three, four in the morning and then I’ll feel much better after that, it’s much more constructive than you know going at my wrists or anything like, much more constructive than that. And at the end you’ve got something to look at and think, out of everything that I felt now is something positive come out of it, like I’ve got a picture, I’ve got a collage, I’ve got, it’s sort of like a chapter of a book writing or something like that.
 

Drawing cartoons, playing Wii or punching his boxing bag help Loz when he’s feeling down.

Drawing cartoons, playing Wii or punching his boxing bag help Loz when he’s feeling down.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Male
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I still have that’s like absolutely down sort of feeling, I’ll be like that for a while, and that, I mean that that goes-ish. I mean there’s still the edge but I know I know sort of how to sort of deal with it.
 
There’s like different ways like drawing, I’ll draw something. Sort of semi, semi violent to match my moods, ‘cos I, I’ve got like my little characters are sort of like cross between anime sort of like westerns or comic book styles, and I love the sort of little characters ‘cos I do spiky hair, sword, like gun, grrr, die evil depressing aliens. And I’ll do something like that or I’ve got like computer games like the Wii, I’ll just smack a few tennis balls about or be up something on [game name], my favourite game, and I love it, but yeah there’s a lot of sort of like different mediums to work out. I drum, and I’ve got a boxing bag which pees off the neighbours which I found out.

Keeping active
Another significant coping strategy for many people was keeping active through exercise and sport. Some did regular sport like swimming, football, dancing, skating, martial arts and going to the gym. Others said just getting out of the house, going for walks and just being out in the fresh air was what they needed. Getting out of the house was the main benefit people said they gained from sport and exercise. A few said they would get up middle of the night to go for a walk or go out on their bike if they felt miserable and unable to sleep. Some described how the physical release of endorphins from exercise could make a difference to their mood.
 

Dancing, netball and going to the gym help Jennie 'get away from my thoughts'.

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Dancing, netball and going to the gym help Jennie 'get away from my thoughts'.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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I’ve done dancing since I was three, and I took up netball at high school and I’ve played it ever since, and also going to the gym, I go to the gym a lot, and it just gets you away from thinking of different thoughts, and socially it’s really good ‘cos you meet other people that have got the same sort of interest as you, like my dancing, it got me away from my thoughts, like when I was at my really low point I danced five days a week, all night, just because I knew that when I was dancing I didn’t have those thoughts and I was happy. And also like it’s just things that like really interest you and you enjoy doing, that’s the best thing to sort of get, get away from the thoughts, and I mean like I got told don’t avoid the, don’t avoid the thoughts, but some days you do need to avoid them because it can get so bad.
 

Taking a walk makes Jack feel “a million dollars”. He says though “there is no plaster for...

Taking a walk makes Jack feel “a million dollars”. He says though “there is no plaster for...

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Male
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I said before like whenever you say you have a paper cut, or you break your leg, something extreme, you can take you know morphine, you can or something like that, and you can, you can treat it, and it can get very better and stuff like that. But with depression there is, as I said there is no plaster, there is no, there is no, obvious very simple thing. But there are things you can do, sometimes you’ve just got to break the barriers, rather than thinking, “Oh I’m just gonna stay inside and feel really low,” sometimes you’ve just got to say, “Get out.” Even though your body says, “No I don’t want to get out.” You’ve got to say, “Look take a walk.”
 
I’ve found when I was going through a horrible you know, questioning who I was, and thinking why am I having these panic attacks, there’s a forest I live next to and I just went for walks down there, and by the end of the walk and even though I didn’t focus on one particular thing in my head exactly, which was an array of wire and stuff like that, but I just went for a walk and at the end I’d feel like a million dollars and I just felt, really good. And just taking a walk, I like to walk a lot, I like to pace whenever I talk or just anything like that, it helps me think.

The social side of doing sport was also important for some. Especially doing team sports could give a sense of belonging and being part of a group which some people felt they were otherwise missing in life.

Similarly to being creative, people said sport made them feel like they were achieving something and it made them feel good about themselves. Other benefits gained from sport included not thinking about their problems, not having to explain their problems to others, feeling in control, losing weight and having fun.
 

Joining a sports team has “done wonders” for Beth. She doesn’t have to think about anything and...

Joining a sports team has “done wonders” for Beth. She doesn’t have to think about anything and...

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
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I just started doing this sport and it was, it was skating and it was in a team and I didn’t have to talk about any of my problems and it was like, I like reading books, it was like going into a book you know and you didn’t have to sort of, but then there was my social life, I’m sociable with it, and it’s, it’s done wonders. It’s the exercise, it honestly it is, it’s, I never went to the gym regularly or ran regularly and the fact that I can just have those hours just every week where I don’t have to think about anything is fantastic. And then I just have the best night’s sleep afterwards
 
 
It was such a achievement to be able to do. And so many girls had done it, and they said how much better you feel about yourself, it doesn’t even have to be a sport, it could be any kind of skill, how good I felt about myself, I’m sticking to something for once because I hadn’t done it for so long and actually learning to do something, and now I’m one of the better players and I’m really fast, and that feels amazing, ‘cos I couldn’t have done it without their help. But it was me that stuck it and it was me that did it, and I can actually say, “Ah, I’ve done something really good.” I hadn’t been able to say that for ages, so it was…
 
Yeah, a sense of achievement?
 
Yeah, definitely, I’d encourage anyone to try, just do something new, whether it’s a sport or any kind of skill.
 
 
The sport itself is amazing, and it’s such a, ‘cos it’s such a niche thing it makes you feel really special, but it could be, my brother does football and he loves his football you know, he does a five-a-side team with the lads from Uni and you can just go and play football and forget about everything. And it doesn’t matter if you get a knock, ‘cos you get, as long as you’re in a team where people encourage you I think that’s all you need. It’s like being a kid again, and kind of learning to walk or something, and you just get that nice kind of encouragement, you kind of learn how to live again. It’s good.
Many said that keeping active was easier said than done and some found it annoying when people around them would tell them to get up and go out for a walk when they were feeling really down. They said even though they knew getting out was usually helpful, it was often a massive effort for them and they had to “force” themselves to do it.
 
Other strategies
Social life, catching up with friends, going out and partying could also help people when they were feeling low or lonely but well and energetic enough to make the effort. Generally, being “distracted” or doing something “stimulating” was the best way young people felt they could cope with bad periods. Some said they threw themselves into work, went shopping, or just cried. A couple of people said they had to just “do anything” to just occupy their mind and “try and break the cycle” of negative thoughts:
 
“If you feel yourself getting a bit low, just to stop it, somehow stop it, like find something to do or go out with a friend or watch a film or … go to BBC Iplayer and just watch a programme for half an hour, just to keep your mind off it”
 

Sarah says small moments can have a big impact.

Sarah says small moments can have a big impact.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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I go fishing sometimes with my Dad and we’ll just sit there for ages, like, in the rain or whatever and eat fish and chips and talk about nought. And just sit there and not catch anything for like 6 hours, and then come home and it’s nice ‘cos you just get those moments with people when you, you could stay there forever, ‘cos it’s just, it’s something nice, you’re not you know worried about anything.
 

Sewing can comfort and give a sense of achievement to Gemma.

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Sewing can comfort and give a sense of achievement to Gemma.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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I found reading a bit of challenge at the beginning and I found sewing really comforting. Focusing on something that wasn’t my problems and finishing a task in peace and quiet I found really rewarding and it gave myself a sense of achievement as well as really relaxing me. My mum bought me some 'sew by numbers' to do. Routine was something the doctor had told me was really important for me to establish and so to start with I did one thing each day and every time I managed to do it I'd put 20p in a pot. It started with making sure I got up each morning at 9am and from then I built it up. The days I didn't manage were really degrading and I felt useless, but I had to realise that I was starting over, small things for other people to do were going to be harder for me and I shouldn't feel bad about that.
 

Joining an online support forum for self-harm has helped Holly.

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Joining an online support forum for self-harm has helped Holly.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
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That website that we were talking about before the, the audio track went on, I joined that I think it was December last year so just when I started this college year and I was still trying to wean myself off the problem sort of self harm and things ‘cos that website is for people, young people or for anyone really who has mental health problems, although it’s mainly centred around self harm and things like that, so just the support of the people there because, because I wasn’t sleeping and if I was up at 3 o’clock in the morning feeling the need to self harm there was no-one there at all, and then suddenly this world on the internet has opened up people sort of in various different countries across the world or people who also weren’t sleeping, that were up at the same time, were able to just distract me or talk me through it or whichever it was. And whereas they were completely strangers, so I had no idea who they are, they helped me through it, which was great.
 

Learning positive thinking and putting her self doubt and negative thoughts into perspective has...

Learning positive thinking and putting her self doubt and negative thoughts into perspective has...

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. I found that a really useful one, although it’s hard at the beginning, it’s a really good one to do because like just anything like if you’re doing your college work, and you think, “This is, this is not going well, and its rubbish, it’s pointless, what am I doing?” And you think well, “Actually somebody would actually think that’s really good.” Just because you think it’s rubbish it doesn’t mean everybody’s going to think it’s rubbish, and it’s like, “Why not even give it to somebody else to look at and see what they think?” And like negative criticism as well, like at university you get a lot of feedback, and it’s constructive criticism, and you’ve not got to take it to heart, you’ve got to again apply the thing of, “They’re actually helping me.” Rather than, “Oh my God they’re telling me I’m really bad at this. And really rubbish.”
 
And also just like walking down the street, if somebody looks at you, it’s not because they’re looking at you ‘cos you look horrific, it’s because they’re looking at you maybe because they like something about you, or, and just always like turning the negative, if you, like when you think of that thought that you just said in, like that’s just been said in your head, and think, “How can I turn that to be a positive?” And at first you’ve got to write it down, and you’ve got to consciously write, “My thought,” and then a positive slant on this. Just changing it negative to positive all the time, and suddenly like it quite, it’s a sense of achievement when actually you think that positive thought in your head and it’s like, “Whoa I didn’t have to write that down.”
Faith and religion were important to a few people. One woman said religion made her feel there was some higher significance to her existence and encouraged her to make most of her life. A couple of people described how faith, and “belief in a higher power” had helped them through the worst times but sometimes caused them anxiety as they questioned the fairness of life.
 
“I think any religion is both a blessing and a curse really. Because if you can find the truth that you believe in then it’s great, but at the same time you then have to question it because of all the horrible things that go on.”
 
“Obviously because I am Catholic, being able to get myself into the state of prayer with the Rosary beads that’s quite a nice place to be, ‘cos it’s quite calm and quite quiet.”
 

Erika-Maye finds faith both comforting and intimidating.

Erika-Maye finds faith both comforting and intimidating.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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I’m religious, I try and find my security in that, but sometimes it’s no safe place.
 
Has faith helped you?
 
Yes and no. Yes because sometimes it’s the only comfort I find in that I know that the people I’ve loved and that I’ve lost are with God. And that everything that happens for a reason.
 
But at the same time because of my panic disorder, I quite often think, work myself up into thinking that I’m going to hell, and that to me is quite a major threat and quite a terrifying thing to console. So it does help me if I’m in a certain state of mind, but if I’ve already gone beyond a rationable, rational place then, then I’m already in too bad a place to make any sense of anything really. I think it was the same thing with the cognitive behavioural therapy that they tried to get me to use. If I was in a sensible frame of mind and I was thinking logically I could feel myself edging up to being panicky, then I could take a step back and breathe and think about things. If I’d all, because sometimes my panic attacks just jump out of nowhere, and if it happened like that, then not a chance [laughs]. Yeah.
 
So religion has been both?
 
Yeah.
 
Comforting, scary, would that be the word?
 
Yeah, maybe yeah. Intimidating perhaps, not scared.
A change in diet by eating, avoiding sugars and carbohydrates or drinking soy milk and green tea had made a couple of people feel calmer and improved their physical and mental wellbeing.
 
Quite a few people said they found reading about other people’s experiences of depression helpful and one man said he always tried to look out for “good cases” of other people who’d pulled through difficult experiences.
 
Taking small steps
For many, finding ways to cope better and deal with bad periods had taken a long time. Even when they knew what might help them, to put it into practice could be hard work. One of the most important things they felt was setting “realistic goals” and doing things “step by step”, taking “teeny steps”. By setting major goals or unrealistic expectations they could easily end up not able to achieve them and “set yourself up to fail”, as one woman put it. Breaking things down, whether it was doing a piece of homework, or just getting through a bad day, or even an hour, helped it all seem more manageable. Again, setting up small goals and then achieving them, brought people a great sense of achievement and fulfilment.
 

Mandy says coping with depression is about getting through each day by setting small goals and ...

Mandy says coping with depression is about getting through each day by setting small goals and ...

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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Depression we found in general just through daily life was getting through the day. Because you couldn’t take anymore than that. You can get through the hour and set yourself small goals of well if I don’t manage the rest I don’t manage it, but I’m gonna get through this hour, and you know do this. And just do small goals because people go, “Oh well I’ve got this to do this week, and this, and this, and I have to get that done and…” You put too much pressure on yourself and you’re setting yourself up to fail. You know you can’t motivate yourself when you’ve got this big list of stuff going, “You have to do this, and you have to get this done,” and you’ve just got to break it down. That’s something I still do to cope is break it down, like work and stuff at Uni, because otherwise I would just get so overwhelmed.
 
I mean I looked at my assessment list the other day and went, “Oh, that’s a stupid amount of work to get done.” But then if I take it essay by essay, deadline by deadline, I’ll get it done, and it’ll, you know, it’ll work. And that’s something that I’ve really found works for me, ‘cos people are like, well just take it an hour at a time, and it really used to bug me, ‘cos I’d just want to fix it there and I’d be going, “No I need to do this, I need to do all of this, and it’s done.” And I never used to accept it. One thing that I’ve found is it really, really does work is just take it as much as you can little by little, to get through because you’ll find it all mounts up.
 
Might only be small things, but if you set yourself a small goal within each day you can build it up, and achieve something and feel you’ve achieved something, rather than belittling it because you can’t do something ‘cos you’ve overwhelmed yourself.
 

“Go and buy loo roll” is Ruby’s advice.

“Go and buy loo roll” is Ruby’s advice.

Age at interview: 27
Sex: Female
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Getting out that’s the most important thing, is like just phoning a friend and saying, “Do you want to meet for coffee or whatever?” Instead of stewing in your own poop. Like, and it’s hard like but once you’re out, you realise that was the best like, just as recently as Sunday, like, I was lying on the sofa like, not Woe is me, but just like “Oh I’m uuuuh and,” caveman talk, like watching god knows what re-runs of Desperate Housewives, but then my friend phoned and I was just like, “Oh Rubes I’m in the Bay, do you want to go for a drink.” And I was like, “Alright.” And then, but I couldn’t be bothered, I was a bit more, put your clothes on, put your face on, like, but within five minutes I was like I was so glad we came out like, you know, so it takes effort and it takes guts but you’ve got to get out and, even if it’s just a walk around your local area or... I always I always used to say go buy a loo roll, you’ll always need a loo roll, so if that’s a purpose for your walk, go buy a loo roll. You know like just to get you out of the house for ten minutes or whatever, have a conversation with somebody else, that’s…
 
Yeah. Small steps.
 
Yeah, teeny steps but they steps nonetheless.
Sleeping and rest were also among strategies that people felt helped them. Sometimes just taking a bit of time out from the pressures and expectations of life, was what they needed:
 
“Sitting outside you get to watch everything sort of float by, you don’t have to worry about anything, you just watch stuff. And it’s a really nice feeling, like just laid there, you’re completely free, nobody’s judging you, you don’t have to judge yourself, and you’re just, no worries, none at all.”
 

Sleeping is a coping strategy for Tom.

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Sleeping is a coping strategy for Tom.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
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One of my kind of coping strategies you know on the basis that I have depression is, is to kind of sleep during the day. I don’t want to sleep during the day, but like it’s more of like a, even if you’re not tired if you think, “Oh I’d really love to just have a nap.”
 
You know where most people’d be like, “I don’t, what the hell do you want to go to bed for now?” You, you know you’re awake, having a good day or whatever, and you just and you have that desire just to go, “Oh.”
 
I think it’s almost like you just turn life off for an hour. You go to sleep, turn life off for an hour and you get back up again, you know start afresh for the day.
Finding what works for you
A few of the young people said there was nothing specific they could do that helped them. Some said they just deliberately wanted to ignore or avoid thinking or talking about any problems:
 
“I think it’s my body’s way of protecting me, letting me deal with it slowly.”
One woman said she’d never let anyone see her cry or get upset and another one said she’d just “fake confidence” but not want to face any problems. One woman said nothing seemed to help her for very long so she kept switching between different coping strategies until they “stopped helping” her.
 

Kirstie says people think she’s a really strong person but she just doesn’t show them her...

Kirstie says people think she’s a really strong person but she just doesn’t show them her...

Age at interview: 16
Sex: Female
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‘Cos that’s what I’ve always done. Anything that’s upset me I’ll just forget it. Everyone’s like, “Are you alright?” I’m like, “I’m fine.” Something would happen like, one of my best friends would just be killed right in front of me, it would be like, “Are you alright?” I’ll be like, “Yeah I’m fine.” And I’d just forget about it. I just push it to the back of my head and think as long as I don’t think about it didn’t happen.
 
I’ve got this thing where I don’t like anyone seeing me hurt or upset. ‘Cos it makes me look weak. I mean now I’ve cried in front of… three people. And that was my boyfriend, [friend’s name] and now [friend’s name]. I’ve never cried in front of my Mum. If ever I got upset at home I’d go up to my bedroom.
 
Or just put it to the back of my mind so I didn’t get, look upset no more. ‘Cos I do not like being upset in front of people, ‘cos it makes you look weak. Well it probably don’t, but I think it makes you look weak so.
 
Why don’t you want to look weak?
 
I don’t know. ‘Cos everyone thinks I’m this strong person and I’m really not.
 
The only thing that makes me strong is I don’t deal with things. Like if you turn round I could have someone full on shouting in my face and it wouldn’t bother me, well it would look like it hadn’t bothered me, but really it had. You will get someone who it bothers, they shout back, so you think oh this person is easily wound up, she doesn’t deal with things very well, but then five minutes later she’s fine again. But because I don’t shout back, they think, “Ah she deals with things well good.” But I’m still dealing with it like three months down the line. ‘Cos I would never actually deal with it.
 

Sara has gotten through a lot of her experiences by 'trying not to think about it' but says it...

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Sara has gotten through a lot of her experiences by 'trying not to think about it' but says it...

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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The way I’ve gotten through it is by the trying not to think about it which probably isn’t great but you just, you know you try not to think about it, and I’m not saying becoming a fake person is the best option, but some you know I have heard that you know faking confidence can make you a more confident person and it’s true, if you fake it, no-one’s gonna know that you’re not confident.
 
But then the only danger with that is your problems don’t get fixed because no-one’s ever gonna think you have any problems.
Some said they’d tried “everything” and had been offered a lot of help and advice but nothing seemed to work for them. Some also pointed out that self-harm or not eating had been their “coping strategy” and they were trying to find something else to “replace” the “unhealthy” ways. A couple of people said they were in the process of trying to find a helpful coping strategy as they felt it could be a way to regain some control over their lives.
 
A couple of people felt they had no other way to vent their feelings except “exploding” or “going on a mad one”, as one woman described it when she gets really angry and ends up “smashing up” her flat.
 

Jo encourages people to accept “the help others can offer you” and says that everyone can give...

Jo encourages people to accept “the help others can offer you” and says that everyone can give...

Age at interview: 25
Sex: Female
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I’m trying to stay in my daily schedule, because I don’t want to disconnect from my life because I think that will cause another anxiety of you know, I’m falling behind and like I’m losing track and it will and it more isolating. So I will go and do my daily things. Even if I do them badly, or if I’m, even if I’m absent minded, but I feel that that helps just to be there and like to keep in a routine, I will, luckily I’m able to go running again. I wasn’t well, I was really bad even though I was aware that I should, so like sometimes it’s you know that something would be good for you, but you just cannot.
 
And I tried and I find that now that I’m doing slightly better that is also helping me to feel better, to kind of physically do stuff. And as I say asking people for help, and opening up so like, yeah, a lot of my old friends especially like are astonished because they’re like, “She’s never talked about any of this,” so that goes, I usually like, I seemed to those people like over confident, kind of, quite judgmental towards these others, and kind of like a bit like aggressive and like a bit over achievers, not in the sense that I was very good at what I was doing, but just like “Just keep going, just keep going.”
 
Well now I’m just, like suddenly I start talking about my vulnerabilities and, and yeah I just kind of accept the help that can, that people can offer you.
 
And it will vary like everybody can give you something else, but just accept that as it is and kind of, and tell people what it, if you can, to tell people just what it is that you need.
For young people’s experiences of other forms of help see; ‘Talking treatments’, ‘Antidepressants’, ‘Complementary approaches’.

For helplines and other resources please see our ‘Resources’ section.

Last reviewed June 2017.

Last updated December 2013.

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