Depression is a mental illness where you feel sad and miserable most of the time and your mood is persistently very low.

Being depressed is more than feeling down for a day or two – it usually continues for weeks or months at a time.

Depression can range from being a mild illness, to a severe one – where you can lose interest in life and the things you used to enjoy.

Triggers of depression

Often depression is triggered by a difficult situation or stressful changes in your life. It can build up over many years.

Signs of depression

Some of the signs of depression are:

  • feeling tired all the time
  • getting too much sleep or not enough
  • feeling worthless and helpless
  • thinking about death a lot
  • having no energy and feelings of low self-esteem
  • loss of appetite or overeating
  • sadness or emotional ‘numbness’
  • loss of pleasure in everyday activities
  • irritability or anxiety
  • poor concentration
  • feeling guilty, or crying for no apparent reason.

Managing your depression

There are things you can do yourself to help manage your depression. Here are a few ideas:

  • do regular exercise
  • get good quality sleep
  • understand what triggers depression for you (eg, lack of sleep, too much stress)
  • join a support group
  • eat healthily
  • reduce stress
  • learn relaxation techniques.

Getting help

Getting help is an important part of managing depression.

Talk to someone:

  • a friend or a family member
  • free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • your GP, who can advise on the best treatment options for you
  • a member of your local community mental health team (contact them through your local district health board).

Get in touch with counselling services:

  • a school guidance counsellor
  • relationships services
  • iwi and other Māori health counselling services
  • alcohol and drug services
  • family support services.

Phone a helpline:

Check out useful websites below.

Related websites

The Lowdown
An interactive website that lets you email, text or instant message for advice. It has information to help young people understand and deal with depression. You can free text 5626 for help.

  • Fact sheets for people to learn more about depression.

A free online tool to help young people learn to deal with depression and anxiety.

Depression website – The Journal
Information and resources (fact sheets) on recognising and understanding depression, including postnatal depression. It’s also the home of The Journal, a self-managed online programme to help you get through depression.

Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation provides free information and training, and advocates for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness.

Health Navigator
The Health Navigator NZ website helps you find reliable and trustworthy health information and self-help resources.

Find out more from the Ministry

  • Mental health – information on what the Ministry does in this area
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