Depression - What you need to know

Is it depression or just a bad day?

If you’ve been feeling really miserable for more than two weeks you’re not just going through a phase. You could have depression. Fortunately there are some things that can help.

What is depression?

Feeling down when something upsetting or stressful happens, like a relationship break-up, or losing a job, is pretty normal, and usually the feelings fade over time and you get on with life. But if it’s depression the feelings don’t go away, even when things improve. 

The way you feel when you’re depressed is connected to:

  • your thoughts (whakaaro) 
  • the way you behave
  • what happened to you in the past
  • what’s going on around you now
  • the way stress hormones affect your brain.

All depression will be helped by better self care.  For mild depression, self-help techniques (like physical activity) can make a big difference. It can be really helpful to see someone who knows about depression. There are people whose jobs are all about helping others who are having a hard time coping. 

Depression can often lead to thoughts that it's not worth going on, or that everyone would be better off without you. If you’re feeling this way, and especially if these thoughts are getting stronger then you need to get help right now. 

What are the signs and symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of depression should be taken seriously if they last for more than two weeks or if they leave you feeling unsafe at any point in time. If you’re in any doubt, call the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or talk to your doctor.

key signs

  • constantly feeling down or hopeless 
  • having little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy.

other possible signs and symptoms

  • irritability or restlessness
  • feeling tired all the time, or a general loss of energy
  • feeling empty, lonely, mokemoke 
  • sleeping problems - too much, or too little
  • losing or gaining weight
  • feeling bad about yourself or things you have done
  • problems with concentration 
  • reduced sex drive 
  • thinking about death a lot
  • thoughts of harming yourself.

It is common for people who have depression to also feel anxious. The symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap. You might want to take a look at the anxiety information too.

Types of depression

There are a number of different kinds of depression, and when you see your doctor, psychologist or counsellor you might hear them use these names. 

One we hear quite a lot about is post-natal depression, which is more than just what some people call 'baby blues.' 

Some other names you might hear include: major depression, bipolar disorder, anxious depression, and psychotic depression. To read more, visit the Health Navigator site.

What next

All sorts of things affect mental health. Understanding what's going on in your life could help you get to a better place.

what can cause it

Other people's stories

I started training

I korero with whānau

Karakia gave me peace