• University of Reading

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

Understand how to recognise depression and low mood in teenagers and learn how to help.

54,118 enrolled on this course

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

54,118 enrolled on this course

  • 5 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn how to recognise and help with depression and low mood in young people

Depression in teenagers can be long-lasting and have wide-ranging effects. Identifying such difficulties early on and offering appropriate support is key in bringing about positive change for young people. However parents and professionals are not always aware of key signs and symptoms of depression or what to do when teenagers are faced with such difficulties.

This course will help you to recognise low mood and depression in teens, understand CBT – an evidence based treatment, discover practical techniques to help support young people and, access sources of further advice.

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  • Week 1

    An introduction to adolescent depression

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome to the course. In this set of Steps you will meet the Educator and Mentor team and find out what to expect from the course.

    • Thinking about adolescent development and what depression is (and isn’t)

      Depression is a serious illness and can affect all aspects of a teenager’s life. Find out what depression is and the warning signs and symptoms to look out for.

    • Depression from different perspectives

      There are many signs and symptoms of depression. Hear what depression feels like from the perspective of a young person, a parent caring for a teenager, and an expert who works with young people.

    • Talking and making sense of depression

      It's important to talk to your teenager about depression and let them know that you are available to listen when they are ready to talk. Think about some of the aspects you need to consider when discussing depression.

    • Review and reflect

      In this final activity, you'll reflect on the main points covered this week and hear what you will be learning in Week 2.

  • Week 2

    The impact of lifestyle

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Welcome to Week 2. Shirley provides you with an overview of this week’s session on how sleeping, eating and physical activity can improve a young person's mood and well being.

    • Intervening with daily habits

      Problems with sleeping, eating and engaging in physical activities are some of the symptoms of depression. Discuss how daily habits impact on both you and your teenager's mood.

    • Appetite and eating habits

      We know that certain foods can be good or bad for our health. Learn about nutrition research which has identified some foods as having a psychological effect.

    • The role of sleep

      Sleep is an essential component of day to day living and lack of sleep can be a symptom of depression. Learn how to interpret your sleeping habits and discuss how to manage sleep problems.

    • Exercising for the mind as well as the body

      The importance of physical activity for mental health and wellbeing is now widely recognised. Hear how your own approach to exercise impacts on the behaviours and attitudes of your teenager.

    • Review and reflect

      In this final activity, you'll reflect on the main points covered this week and hear what you will be learning in Week 3.

  • Week 3

    Understanding and addressing behaviour patterns in depression

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Welcome to Week 3. Shirley provides you with an overview of this week’s session on addressing behaviour patterns in depression.

    • The importance of activity monitoring

      It's often difficult to evaluate how much time we spend on activities and many are done out of habit. Explore how much time you spend on particular activities, using your mobile phone as an example.

    • How does what we do affect how we feel?

      Doing a range of activities, gives us a sense of achievement, closeness and enjoyment. Review the activity log you started at the end of last week and discuss how this may compare to how your teenager spends their time.

    • The importance of what's important to you

      Values are what we feel are personally important. An activity which is rewarding for one person, could have the opposite effect for another person. Discuss what this means for your teenager and how you can plan valued activities.

    • What can parents do: Reinforcement for behaviour

      It's human nature to respond well to positive reinforcement. Discuss how you might encourage non-depressed behaviour by your teenager in both verbal and non-verbal ways.

    • Getting the balance right

      It's normal to have differences of opinion when planning valued activities with your teenager. Watch an example of where conflict in values cause problems for a family and how they arrived at a compromise.

    • Review and reflect

      In this final activity, you'll reflect on the main points covered this week and hear what you will be learning in Week 4.

  • Week 4

    Understanding and addressing thinking patterns in adolescent depression

    • Welcome to Week 4

      Welcome to Week 4. Shirley provides you with an overview of this week’s session on addressing thinking patterns in teenage depression.

    • Depressive thinking in action

      Depression is linked to negative thoughts about who we are, ‘the self’, what will happen, ‘the future’, and everything else ‘the world’. Learn how negative thinking, one of the core features of depression, affects young people.

    • Causes and consequences of thinking errors

      There are many causes and consequences of negative thoughts in depression. Read about the research being carried out on negative thinking as a key feature of depression in teenagers.

    • Putting thoughts on trial

      One of the most difficult things about changing thoughts is that our thoughts are often automatic. Discuss techniques for how you can catch and challenge negative thoughts and what this might look like in practice.

    • Challenges

      Usually there’s more than one way to interpret or make sense of a situation. Investigate what this means for a young person who has depression and how this can be exacerbated by rumination.

    • Review and reflect

      In this final activity, you'll reflect on the main points covered this week and hear what you will be learning in Week 5.

  • Week 5

    Family life and communication, seeking further help

    • Welcome to Week 5

      Welcome to Week 5. Shirley provides you with an overview of this week’s session on family life, communication and seeking further help.

    • Looking after yourself

      It's vital that you also monitor your own personal wellbeing when helping a young person with depression. Discuss strategies for looking after yourself and where you can look for further support.

    • Family communication

      When a teenager is depressed it often becomes difficult to communicate which can lead to arguments. Think about the aspects you need to consider when communicating and discuss tips on avoiding conflict.

    • Planning for the future

      Too much pressure and stress can make a person feel more anxious and overwhelmed, and therefore affect mood in a negative way. Learn how you can help a teenager manage school and other issues.

    • Monitoring progress

      With time, the right treatment and regular effort your teenager’s depression will get better but it's helpful to note warning signs that may indicate their depression may be resurfacing. Explore what these may look like.

    • Review and finding more help

      Thank you for joining us on Understanding Low Mood and Depression in Young People. Now you’ve reached the end of the course let’s reflect together and think about the next steps you may like to take.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

This course has been accredited by the CPD Certification Service, which means it can be used to provide evidence of your continuing professional development.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Understand the key signs and symptoms of adolescent depression and how it may present itself
  • Identify how depression differs from low mood and other 'normal' mood fluctuations in teenagers
  • Describe key environmental and lifestyle factors which may contribute to depression in teenagers
  • Discuss what teenagers and carers can do to promote a healthier lifestyle within the family
  • Understand how a psychological approach can help us to better understand depression
  • Understand CBT and other key strategies that can be helpful for low mood
  • Identify how patterns of behaviour and thinking can contribute to depression in teenagers and how these can be addressed in therapy
  • Discuss the importance of good communication when supporting teenagers with depression, both within families and between families and other agencies such as schools
  • Summarise how and why breakdowns in communication occur and how to resolve these

Who is the course for?

The course has been specifically created for parents of young people with depression and low mood, teachers and primary (or other) healthcare professionals who play a role in detecting mental health difficulties and offering appropriate support and guidance to young people.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Clinical Psychologist & researcher. Much of my work is with parents of children & adolescents who are experiencing mental health problems. I’m passionate about supporting and empowering parents.

I head up a number of educational outreach projects and am interested in spreading knowledge about evidence-based therapies for common mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

I am a psychologist conducting research on anxiety and depression in young people. My work focuses on how young people develop mental health problems, and how we can prevent or treat them.

I'm a clinical psychologist. Most of my work has been research on depression and anxiety and how to improve treatments. We need to make effective treatment available to everyone @DrS_Reynolds

I am a research clinical psychologist, with a particular interest in making treatments for young people with low mood and depression more effective and accessible.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 7 Mar 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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