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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of depression in teens & young adults

Tirohanga whānui ki te pāpōuri ki ngā taiohi me rangatahi

One in five rangatahi (young people) is affected by a mental health problem.

Depression is the most common mental health problem, and it often begins in adolescence or early adulthood.

Depression is different from day-to-day sadness. It's normal to feel sad sometimes in response to hard situations in life. Depression is when the sadness takes over and doesn't go away.

Depression can be a serious illness. You might find it hard to do everyday things like going to school or work or seeing friends. You might stop wanting to do things you usually enjoy. Sometimes being depressed can make you irritable or angry.

You can read more about the symptoms of depression. You may also like to try this online test for depression.

Quite often the signs of depression are overlooked in rangatahi as they're thought to be "just part of growing up". Many rangatahi miss out on help because of this.


At times, suicide might seem like a solution to depression. If you or a friend is considering acting on suicidal thoughts and needs help, phone the Depression Helpline on 0800‑111‑757 or txt 4202 (available 24/7), or phone Youthline 0800‑37-66-33 or txt 234 (available 24/7). Or you can contact your local mental health crisis team:

Treating depression in teens & young adults

Depression is much easier to fix if it's dealt with quickly. It helps to understand what causes it so you can find ways to get through. A combination of self-care and medical or psychological treatment helps most people.

Your general practice team is a good place to start if you think you or someone you love might have depression.

You might have to try a range of things before you start feeling better. You'll be able to do some things for yourself, but you might need some extra help from your general practice team, therapists or other health professionals.

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On the next page: Self-care for depression in youth & teens

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2023.


Page reference: 496685

Review key: HIDPY-49622