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Depression is a serious mental health condition that can profoundly impact your thoughts, emotions, and daily functioning. If you're experiencing persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, know that you're not alone.

What is Depression?

Depression is a term often used by people to describe feelings of sadness. However, it is good to remember that everyday sadness or feeling ‘blue’ is not depression. For most of us, these feelings pass, and we can return to our normal daily activities.

Depression is diagnosed when sadness starts to impact our lives and prevents us from enjoying our normal activities. Along with constant feelings of sadness, one of the key symptoms is a loss of enjoyment in things that would normally be enjoyable and pleasurable.

One in six New Zealanders will experience depression at some stage in their life, and overall it is more common for those in the 25 to 45 year old age bracket.

What are the Signs?

  • Feelings

    • Low mood everyday
    • Feeling overwhelmed, sad, empty
    • No confidence, feeling worthless
    • Less pleasure in almost all activities
    • Difficulty concentrating 
    • Loneliness 
    • Feeling numb
  • Physical

    • Tired all the time
    • Sleep problems
    • Significant weight changes (losing or gaining)
  • Thoughts

    • I’m a failure
    • Nothing good ever happens to me 
    • I’m worthless
    • Life’s not worth living
    • Wanting to harm yourself
  • Behaviours

    • Withdrawing from friends and family
    • Being grumpy and irritable
    • Crying often
    • Increased risk taking behaviours 
    • Relying on alcohol or other substances
    • Not doing usual enjoyable activities 

What Causes Depression?

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Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of, it can be connected to lots of different things and there’s usually more than one reason why someone might be feeling down. Depression can be linked to:

  • Things that have happened in the past
  • Your current environment, stress and worries
  • Major life changes e.g. death of a love one, relationship break-up
  • Genetics  
  • Substances (drugs, alcohol and some medications)
  • Trauma

Everyone is different and sometimes the cause of depression is unclear and that’s ok too. What’s important is that you recognise the signs and symptoms and ask for support when you need it.

Worried About How You Feel?

Learning to cope with, and overcome, anxiety is absolutely possible. If you find the strategies below are not enough then it might be time to ask for some extra help. There are lots of people out there ready and wanting to help. 

Click here to find some different ways to ask for help or have a look at a list of people who can help here. Alternately, take the self-test to help you figure out what you might be feeling and what your next steps could be.

Take the self-test to help you figure out what you might be feeling and what your next steps could be. 


Strategies to manage depression

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Sometimes with depression it can seem as though you have no control over what or how you are feeling. Taking a small step or setting some achievable goals are things that you can control and can help get you on the road to feeling better.

If you’re feeling alone, or too embarrassed to have a chat/kōrero about it, know that there are so many ways to help make things better. 

Have a look at some of the strategies below and pick one or two that you feel you can give a go. Focusing on getting good sleep, eating healthy, exercise, and mindful rest can act as a great base for looking after your wellbeing.

Some other useful strategies are:

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Talking To Someone (Kōrero, Talanoa)

One of the best ways to get support is to talk to someone you trust. If you don’t have someone you feel you could talk to, your GP or the free 1737 helpline is a great place to start.

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Connect With Others

Supportive, strong relationships with others can be a great source of strength when things are tough. Arrange to catch-up with friends or family to help out in your local community.

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Maintaining A Routine

This could be as simple as planning your sleep and meals. One of the most important things is staying connected to family and friends. Plan out your week and keep it simple.

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Your GP may recommend medication as a way of helping manage depression. Medication won’t necessarily fix the things that are going on in your life, but it can certainly help stabilise your mood.

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Movement & Exercise

Research shows there’s a strong link between exercise and feeling good. Getting outside doesn’t have to be limited to training. Try going for a walk, mowing the lawns or throwing a frisbee round with some mates.

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Fuel Your Body With Good Food

Our brain, just like our body, relies on the food we eat to function. Eating a balanced diet gives us the ability to concentrate and the energy to cope with the challenges we face.

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Get Enough Sleep

Good sleep is one of our basic needs for health and wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep (7-9 hours is normal for most people) can have a big impact on how we feel.

Getting it sorted

Sometimes depression can continue to stick around and can feel like it’s just getting worse. If this feels like the case for you, you might need some extra support from someone who knows how to help.

There are people out there with the skills and knowledge to help you understand what is going on for you and figure out the best way to support you to feeling better. 

Depression can get so bad you can feel that it’s not worth going on, or that everyone would be better off without you. If you have thoughts like this you MUST talk to somebody right now. There are people ready and wanting to help. Click here to find out where you can get help.

Sometimes people who experience depression also feel anxious and worry often. The symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap and it’s not uncommon to experience both. If you think that might be you then taking the Anxiety test is a good place to start.

You can also try the ‘Aunty Dee’ site. Created by Le Va to help young people tackle the challenges and problems they face. Aunty Dee helps you come up with solutions and find the best way to act.