Dear Steph,

Sometimes I get really down and I can’t seem to snap out of it. Some days I literally wake up, just sad. Nothing major has happened, I have friends, my family are great, I’m happy enough in school, but I still get this really sad feeling. It doesn’t happen every day, maybe every few weeks, but when I feel that way I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to see my friends, I don’t want to go outside, I don’t want to exercise…I don’t want to bother my family or friends because it’s not a big deal but I want to sort it out. I’m 16…thanks.


Hi there,

Thank you and well done for reaching out. It’s not always easy finding the words, never mind asking for help. 

When I work with someone in talk therapy, we spend some time in the beginning drawing out the big picture of their life. This really helps to find clues in situations like yours where there doesn’t seem to be anything major going on. We’re extremely resilient little beings and you would be surprised at the amount of things that we’re able to accept, survive, and move past. But sometimes our feelings can get lodged and we can have delayed reactions to things. Without knowing your full story, it’s hard to say what might be causing this feeling for you right now, but it might be worth thinking back to a few months or even years ago – and think beyond yourself to friends, family members, and neighbours too. Sometimes we can be affected by something that’s happening to someone else and we dismiss it because it’s not ours, but we still feel the impact and need to air it out.

Another thing to mention is your age. During the teenage years (as I’m sure you’ve heard 100 times before!) our hormones are all over the place. The stereotypical image of the teenager shouting and slamming doors is only part of the picture – hormones are very complex, and they affect everyone differently. Sometimes hormones can bring on a sense of sadness or loss too. Scientifically speaking, during our teenage years, our brains are in the middle of a major rewiring project – reorganising neuronal circuits that drive the way we think, feel, and behave. Particularly in the female teenage brain, hormonal surges make us even more sensitive to approval & disapproval, acceptance & rejection! Great, right!? We can’t stop hormones, nor do we want to – they’re helping us to develop into strong, resilient, and powerful women. But we can learn how to manage them. Keeping track of your cycle is vital. There are some great apps out there so do some research and find one that you like, but one that I particularly like is FitrWoman. It was developed for women in sport but there’s great info in there for all of us about how to best manage each of the 4 weeks of our cycle from energy levels, to moods, to nutrition and exercise.

I also want to mention the difference between sadness and depression. Sadness is a normal emotion that we all feel from time to time and generally, it’s temporary. However, depression is a much more consistent and persistent condition – it includes feelings of sadness, but it also includes many other feelings and issues. If you are concerned about your mental or emotional health and you begin to experience this feeling of sadness more often, and for longer periods of time, please tell someone at home and ask them if you can go to the GP for guidance.

On the days where you’re feeling particularly low, go with it and don’t fight it. Being a 16 year old in today’s world ain’t no easy job, even when things seem fine. Allow yourself to go inward and spend time alone – that’s good for us every so often. Don’t commit to anything on those days and just be extra nice to yourself. Get your favourite jammies, a few Netflix episodes lined up, a good book, a few of your favourite snacks, plenty of water, a hot bath…and try to remember that it will pass 🙂 

I hope this helps to ease your concerns a little. Take care of yourself and stay in touch!


For more information on Steph, or how to ask for advice, click here…

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