Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

Understanding Low Mood in Young People

What is Low Mood?

All of us will feel sad or low in mood at times, it’s a normal part of being human. There are many things which can impact on our mood, sometimes it might be live events, big changes, loss of someone important or even relationship break ups.

Sometimes these feelings can hang around for a while but most of the time it passes and we start to feel better, it does not necessarily mean you have a mental illness.

If these feelings continue for a long time and start to make everyday life difficult, then you may be experiencing depression.

How might this affect me?

People experiencing low mood may feel sad, they may experience a lack of energy, and struggle with motivation to complete task of daily living such as showering, eating, or going to school or work. People may start to withdraw from friends, family, and activities that they used to enjoy.

What can I do to help myself?

It is important to talk to someone you trust such as a family member, friend, teacher, youth worker or your GP.

Physical exercise can help such as going for a walk and noticing your surroundings. Even if you  don’t feel like it, physical exercise has been shown to help release feel good hormones. 

It can be helpful to maintain structure and routine to your day, this can be simple tasks that you may have been finding difficult such as getting up by a certain time and going for a shower.

This helps avoid unhelpful patterns of behaviour developing that can prevent symptoms of depression improving.

Avoid alcohol and drugs as these are known to make your symptoms worse and can prevent helpful strategies or medication working for you.

When might a referral be appropriate?

If you, a family member or a professional thinks you may have depression or if you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, then this might be the time to speak with CAMHS. Your Parents/Carers or if you are 12 years and over you can complete the Self Referral form within our referral section. 

You can also ask your GP, a teacher or your School Nurse to make a referral for you.

What can I expect?

Following a referral to CAMHS if we think we might be the best service to help you, then; we will offer you a first assessment appointment. 

We might then sign post you to other services, offer brief help or provide specialist help depending on the difficulties you are experiencing. 

You will be signposted or provided with lots of resources to help with education around this difficulty.


Understanding Low Mood for Parents & Carers

How do I know if my child has Low Mood?

Child and Adolescent Development can be challenging as your child transitions between the normal stages of development.

Changes in hormones, peer pressure, life at school, stress, grief or family difficulties can affect the mood of a child or adolescent. It is normal for teenagers especially to withdraw more, or want to spend more time away from you. Its also normal for them to experience frequent changes in mood.

If you notice that your child is struggling with daily life, struggling with school or friendships, or withdrawing into themselves more than you would expect, then it is worth discussing your concerns with your child and/or a professional such as your GP, as they may be suffering with low mood.

How might this affect them?

Dealing with a child or adolescent with low mood can be challenging and frightening, especially if they are experiencing thoughts to harm them self or others.

Look out for changes in their sleep pattern, eating habits and motivation. They might be avoiding things they have previously enjoyed or appear sad or tearful.

If you are worried about the safety of your child, seek appropriate help early via your GP.

What can I do to help my child?

It is important your child is able to talk to someone who will listen to them with empathy and understanding.

If they are unable to speak to you openly, is there another family member or friend that can help?

It is also important that you ask for help and support from a professional should you need it.

It may be helpful to make contact with the child or young person’s GP who can carry out a physical examination that may include blood tests or urine samples to rule out any physical health concern that may precipitate symptoms of depression.

When might a referral be appropriate?

It is important that a referral is made to CAMHS when there are concerns around mental health and risk.

If you would like to speak to a mental health professional regarding your child, you can call CAMHS (01387) 244662, between 2pm-4pm (Monday to Friday) or speak to your GP, School Nurse or another professional.


What can I expect?

Following a referral to CAMHS  you may be offered a first assessment appointment with a trained clinician who will conduct an assessment. 

Based on the information given you may be referred or signposted to another service who might be more appropriate to meet the needs of your child.

If  a treatment plan is identified, you may be asked to participate in some treatment programmes alongside your child.

You will be signposted or provided with lots of resources to help with education around this condition.


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