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Mental Health

For Young Adults: Learn about Depression

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Author: Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division


You might be navigating a lot of big changes: graduating high school, pursuing post-secondary education, leaving home, starting a career, and more. Some of these changes are exciting, and some may be a bit scary or overwhelming. Any change can be stressful, and stress can have a big impact on your mood. It’s normal to feel sad or low from time to time, but feeling low or sad most of time may be a sign that you need extra support.

Depression is a mental illness

Depression affects your mood—the way you feel. You may feel very low, sad, or hopeless. Changes in your mood can cause big changes in other parts of your life.

Depression is more than a bad day, or even a bad week. It’s not your fault. Depression can steal hope and motivation—the things that help most people recover. The symptoms of depression can be hard to fight by yourself, so it’s important to ask for help. Depression is very treatable. You don’t have to deal with everything on your own.

Some people who experience depression have thoughts of suicide. If you have thoughts of ending your life, seek help right away. You can talk to someone at any time by calling 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).


Depression isn’t your fault

While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, most researchers agree that a number of different things are involved. This includes changes in your body, a history of other family members who have experienced depression, or stressful or difficult life events. Different ways of thinking and understanding the world can add to thoughts and feelings around depression.


Recognize the signs

Depression includes changes in your thoughts, feelings, actions, and body that can for a long time without help.

  • Sad or down

  • Angry or irritated

  • Hopeless

  • Guilty

  • Numb—not feeling anything at all

  • Worthless

  • "Nothing ever works out"

  • "No one likes me"

  • "Everything is my fault"

  • "I don’t know why I bother trying"

  • "I should be able to just snap out of this"

  • "I should just end my life"

  • Losing interest in things you usually enjoy

  • Avoiding other people, even friends and family

  • Having a hard time paying attention or making decisions

  • Having a hard time going about your usual daily activities

Changes in your body
  • Changes in the way you sleep—such as sleeping much less or much more than usual

  • Changes in the way you eat—such as eating much less or much more than usual

  • Getting physical problems like headaches or stomach aches more often

  • Feel anxious or on edge

  • Feeling tired all the time

Some people have thoughts of suicide, and these thoughts are very frightening. With treatment and support, these thoughts will become manageable and fade away. It’s important to seek help if you ever think about ending your life. If you don’t know where to go, call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).


Is it just a bad week, or is it something else?

A lot of people wonder if they’re just having a bad week, or if they might be experiencing a problem like depression. In general, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or health professional if:

  • Low mood or other signs of depression are not going away on their own and have lasted two weeks or more

  • It’s bothering you and causing problems in your life

  • You’re having a hard time taking care of yourself

  • You’ve had thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life

Remember, you aren’t responsible for diagnosing yourself! If you have concerns about your mental health, it’s better to seek help early—don’t wait and see if things get worse.


Learn more

HeretoHelp—visit for information, screening self-tests and personal stories about anxiety. You’ll also find Managing a Mental Illness, a series that guides you from diagnosis to recovery, and Wellness Modules, which offer self-care tips and strategies. You’ll also learn about a HeretoHelp initiative called Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses, a growing community aimed at improving mental health on BC campuses. See

Mood Disorders Association of BC—visit or call 604-873-0103 (in the Lower Mainland) or 1-855-282-7979 (in the rest of BC) for resources and information on mood disorders. The Mood Disorders Association of BC offers a psychiatry clinic, therapy programs, support groups, and other wellness workshops and events.

Mindcheck—visit for information about mental health, resources, and support. You can take a quiz to check your mood, and their self-care resources include several apps and websites you can try on your own.

Canadian Mental Health Association—visit or call 1-800-555-8222 (toll-free in BC) or your local CMHA branch for information and community resources on mental health or any mental illness. A free program called Bounce Back helps adults experiencing mild to moderate depression, stress, or anxiety, using self-help materials and coaching. See


Want more info on depression?

This brochure is part of a series on young adults and depression. To learn more about dealing with depression, finding help, and feeling better, see Dealing with Depression: For Young Adults at


About the author

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The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit


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