“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”
― Maya Angelou
It is natural to experience times when we feel sad or low as a normal reaction to the stress of our everyday lives. This is not what is meant when we talk about depression.
Depression is an illness that can affect the way we think, feel and act for weeks or sometimes months at a time. Depression can come from external stressful events like a break-up, loss of a job, financial worries, illness, childhood trauma, being alone, or a death… but sometimes you just feel bad inside and you can’t explain or put your finger on why. It’s different for everyone, but there are some common symptoms and feelings. When you are depressed, your low mood lasts and affects your sleep, relationships, work, appetite (eating more or less), motivation to do things, and overall enjoyment of life. 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 (see info below).
Anxiety is often present with depression. Anxiety symptoms include:
- Excessive worry or fear, with associated physical symptoms such as muscle tension, pounding heart, dry mouth.
- Panic attacks. Sudden episodes of extreme anxiety and panic with physical symptoms of fear.
- Phobias. Specific fears regarding situations, objects or creatures.
- Excessive concern about physical health.
How Common is Anxiety and Depression
If you’re experiencing distress you’re certainly not alone. At some point in their life many people will go through it too:
- 1 in 7 will experience depression before they are 24 years old
- 1 in 8 men will experience depression
- 1 in 5 women will experience depression
- 1 in 4 New Zealanders will experience anxiety
- 1 in 5 people with depression or anxiety will experience both at the same time
Te Rau Hinengaro: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health. 2006
HELPLINES, SELF-TESTS, ONLINE THERAPY
- Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
- Depression helpline: Freephone 0800 111 757.
- Healthline: 0800 611 116 (Available 24 hours, 7 days a week and free to
callers throughout New Zealand, including from a mobile phone).
- Lifeline: 0800 543 35.
- Samaritans – 0800 726 666.
- Ministry of Health. Online self-test.
- Big White Wall Free for Auckland DHB residents. A UK-based professionally facilitated, peer support community of people who are experiencing common mental health problems.
- Beating the Blues Online CBT therapy module, NZ.
- CALM Website Exercises and information you can download.
- Depression.org.nz including The Journal NZ based self-help programme designed to teach you skills that can help get through mild to moderate depression more effectively.