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  What is depression?
Most of us feel blue or get down from time to time, but usually it doesn't last long, and we can still keep going with day to day things like going to school and being with mates.

But sometimes when you suffer from depression, you feel so sad, down and miserable that it is impossible to "snap out of it". You may feel like life is meaningless or feel empty, like you have nothing to give. Sometimes these feelings get so bad you may think it would be easier to die and may think about hurting yourself.

Being depressed may also affect your eating patterns, leading to you eating much more or less than usual. You may also find that you struggle to sleep properly, either you can't get to sleep or you may wake up a lot, often early in the morning, and can't get back to sleep.

Concentrating on school or work may be like too much effort, indeed you may feel so tired and slowed down that you have no energy for anything!

You may feel restless and unable to settle to do things, even feeling irritable and aggressive. Things you used to enjoy, like hanging out with mates, can stop being as much fun and it may become really hard to see the "bright side of life".

Young people suffering from depression often feel like it won't get better or that things won't work out for them, or they may have other negative thoughts.

Does depression affect a lot of people?
Oh yes. We reckon up to 1 in 5 people could suffer depression at some point in their life and in New Zealand it is estimated that 8 percent of teenagers get it.

What causes it?
Depression can be caused by lots of things. These may include a chemical imbalance in the brain, or stressful events in your life such as relationships, exams or really sad things happening. Sometimes the way we think about things can make it more difficult for us to deal with difficult times. Often it is a combination of these things that lead to depression. The important thing to remember is that it is not your fault!

So, If you are depressed what do you do?
Talking to someone is usually the first step. It will help you feel like someone cares and understands if a family/whanau member or friend listens to you.

Other useful things that can help us cope are:
positive self-talk
doing nice things for yourself like having a bubblebath
playing with a pet
finding fun things to do (even if it is hard at first)
trying to spend time with other people

It is important to take one step at a time and reward yourself with treats along the way. Learning about what stresses you out and how to deal with it is always a great thing to do as well.

Your family/whanau and your friends can help you with these things but sometimes you may find that you need to talk to someone who is trained to treat depression. These people may include your GP or school counsellor at first but in some cases they can suggest you go and see specialist people like psychologists, mental health nurses and social workers, or psychiatrists. These people are trained to understand depression and the best ways to treat it effectively.

Sometimes medication might be suggested as a way of helping your mood and energy levels improve so you can help yourself more. You may learn new ways to think about your problems which are helpful in dealing with stressful events.

You may find some of these links useful for more information about depression:

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Also check out Maori Mental Health | Pacifica Mental Health | About Us
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