Depression is often misunderstood and the word is often misused. If you think you or someone else might be depressed, ask for help—you can get through it.

Depression is one of the most common reasons students at the University seek counselling. Defining depression can be difficult because people experience depression differently. You may experience some of the signs of depression below, but not be depressed.

The thing to ask yourself is whether how you are feeling is different from usual—especially if you're experiencing these feelings for increasing periods of time and don't know how to shift them.

It's important to recognise the signs of depression—in yourself or someone you care about—so you can do something about it. The sooner you take action, the sooner you will start to feel better.

Signs of depression can include:

  • Feelings of sadness that don't go away
  • Persistent low mood or emotional numbness
  • Losing interest and pleasure in your usual activities
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Excessive anxiety, agitation or worry
  • Changes in your sleeping or eating patterns
  • Loss of energy, lethargy, extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless
  • Feeling guilty for no reason
  • Poor concentration and forgetfulness
  • Suicidal thoughts.

If you've felt like this for more than two weeks it could be a sign of depression—seek help.

Causes of depression

There is no single cause of depression. It can come out of the blue or be triggered by life events like the death of a loved one, relationship problems, money worries, poor health, traumatic events, or a major change such as childbirth. Some people are more vulnerable to depression, but sometimes there is no apparent reason.

You can get better

Most people who experience depression make a full recovery—the first step is seeking help.  Talking about how you’re feeling with someone you trust can be the first step towards recovery. Check out Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand or contact Student Counselling.