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Depression is a very common condition that can affect anyone at any age. About 1 in 6 people experience depression at some time in their life. 

Depression is treatable, most people feel better with treatment, so it’s important to seek help early. Our Wellness Support Team can help you feel better and keep you on track to recovery.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder where you experience a long-lasting depressed mood, or loss of interest in activities, causing a loss of quality of life.

The feelings you have when you are depressed are stronger than just feeling low on some days. Depression can last from weeks to months and it affects your thinking, emotions and behaviour.

When you are depressed, your mood affects your sleep, relationships, job and appetite and behaviour.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe; you may feel so bad that you have thoughts of self-harm or even suicide. It is important that if you are having any suicidal thoughts you seek help immediately.

What causes depression?

Depression is linked to changes in how your brain works and can be triggered by things like:

  • relationship breakdown
  • nervous breakdown or burn out
  • recent or past stressful events
  • a family history of depression
  • physical illness, such as a stroke
  • certain medications
  • loneliness
  • the birth of a baby (postnatal depression).

Symptoms of depression

  • Persistent low, sad or depressed mood – feeling empty, having no feelings, or on-going pain.
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities – including loss of interest in sex.
  • Irritable mood – a common sign in youth.
  • Change in sleeping patterns.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Decreased energy, tiredness and fatigue.
  • Physical slowing or agitation ‒ you may sit in one place for a long time and respond or talk very slowly, or fidget and talk fast.
  • Thoughts of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Thoughts of hopelessness and death.
  • Difficulty thinking clearly.
  • Weight loss or eight gain.
  • Menstrual (period) irregularities.

Depression diagnosis

Depression is a serious illness and you should see your doctor if you think you may have it.

Your doctor will need to spend some time with you to understand the difficulties you have had and see if you have some or all of the symptoms of depression. You will most likely be asked to fill in a questionnaire.

At Local Doctors, if you have mild to moderate depression you may be able to see a counsellor and / or health coach free of charge on the same day you visit the clinic. Just ask your GP or nurse.

How is depression treated?

If you have depression you can’t just 'snap out of it', you will need to seek help from your doctor. Usual treatment is a combination of therapy/counselling, lifestyle changes and antidepressant medication.

Medication for depression

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants. If so, you are entitled to know:

  • the names of the medicines
  • what symptoms they are supposed to treat
  • how long it will be before they take effect
  • how long you will have to take them for and what their side effects (short and long-term) are.

It’s important to see your doctor before stopping medication. A sudden stop can cause worse feelings.
Read about depression medicines in New Zealand.

Therapy for depression

There’s a range of counselling treatment for mild to moderate depression. Your doctor or psychologist or health coach will talk to you about them.

Physical health and activity are also great for wellbeing; being active on most of days of the week will help your mental health. It’s also a good idea to get an annual health check with your doctor.

Education about depression

Learning about depression can be extremely helpful for you and your whanau.

Local Doctors has a depression education programme and depression self-management programme for you, your whanau and supporters. Our Wellness Support Team can provide information about depression, suggest different ways to handle it, and discuss any complications that could occur.