Everyone goes through tough times at different points in their lives, and we all feel sad every now and then. It’s important to understand that feeling sad temporarily is very different from being depressed or having depression.

Depression is a mental disorder that is more severe and longer lasting than normal sadness. Depression interferes with other aspects of your life, like work, school or relationships, but with the right kind of treatment, many people can overcome it and lead happy, healthy lives.

What causes depression. Sometimes depression has no apparent cause, but in other cases, it may be caused by one or a number of factors like genetics, the chemicals in the brain that control your moods might be out of balance, a stressful event or chain of stressful events and certain personality types are at a higher risk of depression than others (this includes people who tend to be anxious, shy, perfectionistic, or those who have low self-esteem).

Depression and suicide. For some people, depression may lead to thoughts of suicide. Try to remember that you don’t have to act on these thoughts, no matter how overwhelming they might be. If you’re considering ending your life, it’s important that you talk to someone right away. If you’re in a crisis, you can also call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to get immediate help.

For more information, check out the Wanting to end your life fact sheet for what you can do to keep yourself safe and get the help that you need. If you know someone who is thinking about taking his or her own life, encourage them to get help. Check out the When your friend is talking about suicide fact sheet for more on how you can help.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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