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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Understanding depression in teens & young adults

Te mārama ki te pāpōuri ki ngā taiohi me rangatahi

Low mood is common in rangatahi (young people) in New Zealand.

Rangatahi are often not good at expressing how they feel. So, depression in rangatahi can show itself in a variety of ways. They may show their low mood by being angry or irritable or by withdrawing from activities. They may also have sleep problems or physical complaints such as headaches and sore stomachs.

Rangatahi can have low mood for a range of reasons. These include relationship difficulties, stress and lifestyle imbalances.

Some rangatahi are more prone to get low mood due to a family history of depression (genetics). These rangatahi need to be aware of lifestyle choices that can make depression more likely for them.

Lifestyle imbalances usually go hand in hand with stress that rangatahi find overwhelming. Ongoing stress or relationship difficulties can leave them feeling helpless and hopeless. They lack the power and the skills to work out these issues and find solutions.

Understanding your young person

It can be difficult to appreciate how much of an impact these things might be having on your young person's mood. You might be surprised to discover how out of balance their life has become due to poor decision making in managing their life. Have you ever considered how you might feel if you lived in their shoes for a few days? This might help you to understand some of their pressures and make it easier to support them finding a better balance.

Try this little experiment at home and see how it makes you feel.

Are you feeling irritable yet? If not, repeat three times. And if that doesn't work:

There are lots of things you can do to support a rangatahi with depression. See the ideas on the Supporting a young person with depression.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Supporting a young person with depression

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2023.


See also:

Depression in teens & young adults

Support after a suicide attempt (for family & friends)

Page reference: 329763

Review key: HIDPY-49622