Depression

Most people have had times in their lives when they’ve felt sad or down. These feelings can be a  normal reaction to dealing with stress, loss or disappointment.

Depression is when those feelings stick around for a long time and stop you doing the things you enjoy. It is very common with 1 in 7 Kiwis experiencing depression before their 24th birthday.

The first step is to understand what’s going on for you, we have a test that can help get you started below, otherwise scroll down to read on. 

When does feeling down become depression?

It can sometimes be hard to know whether what you’re experiencing are “normal” feelings, like disappointment about not making a team or sadness about a break-up, or whether they’re signs of depression.

Life can get full on and sometimes it can seem as though you have no control over what or how you are feeling. It’s when those feelings last for a long time, more than two weeks, and get in the way of you living life the way you want to that it can be a sign of depression.

What causes it?

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 and some 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.

What does it feel like: Common Symptoms

Although depression can feel very different from person to person, there are a few things that are commonly experienced. Two of the key signs of depression are:

  • Constantly feeling down or hopeless 
  • Feeling little interest or enjoyment in doing the things you usually like to do

Some of the other common experiences people notice are:

Physical

  • Tired all the time
  • Sick and run down
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Difficulty keeping up at trainings
  • Hard time getting to sleep/ staying asleep
  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Can’t concentrate
  • Reduced sex drive

Emotional

  • “I’m a failure”
  • “It’s my fault”
  • “Nothing good ever happens to me”
  • Thinking you are worthless
  • Thinking life is not worth living
  • Having thoughts of wanting to harm yourself
  • “People would be better off without me”

Behavioural

  • Irritable a lot of the time
  • Feeling hopeless, no sense of the future
  • Feeling numb
  • No confidence
  • Overwhelmed
  • Empty and lonely
  • Not getting things done at mahi/work or school
  • Isolating from whānau/ friends
  • Relying more on alcohol and drugs
  • Not doing usual enjoyable activities

Strategies & Tips

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/korero 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.

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 or help out in your local community.

Take Time Out

It can be tough to deal with everyday situations when you’re feeling down. Try removing some of the pressure by scheduling time to relax each day, give meditation a go or book yourself a holiday.

Get Outside and Move

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.

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.

Get Enough Sleep

Good sleep is one of our basic needs for health and wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep can have a big impact on how we feel. Have a look at some tips to achieving good sleep here.

Ask For Help

There are so many benefits to asking for help and there are plenty of people out there who can support you. Talk to your GP or someone you trust about finding the right person for you. Click here to see a list of supports.

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.