What to do if you or a friend is depressed

This page provides information for young people on what you can do for yourself or a friend who is depressed.

Key points

  1. If you have signs of depression, it’s important that you get help – the earlier you get help, the easier it is to get over your depression.
  2. There are trained people who will be supportive of you and who know how to help you.
  3. Depression is common and most people who get it recover well.
  4. The key thing is to talk to someone, so you can get help – talk to your parents, a teacher or a friend or try any of the helplines on this page.
  5. There are things you can do yourself as well, such as online tools and lifestyle changes.

What can I do to get over my depression?

  • Talk to someone even though the feelings that are part of depression can make it hard to talk about it, such as feeling that you are no good or being scared that you are going mad. But these thoughts are just part of depression, so don’t listen to them, and instead tell someone how you are feeling. There are people who can help you get through it.
  • Lifestyle improvements can help your mood a lot. Focus on having a healthy lifestyle: healthy eatingphysical activity and plenty of sleep
  • Limit how much time you spend online and on screens and instead spend more time outside/in nature – this has been shown to help beat depression.
  • If you drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, stop using them as they make you more depressed. Find out more about alcohol and mental health.
  • Check out The Lowdown, SPARX, What’s Up and depression apps and e-learning, as well as depression support and resources.
  • Get involved in something that feels meaningful to you, whether it’s through your school, a sport, your church or your marae, or a community project.

Find out more about living well with depression.

What should I do if a friend is depressed?

  • If you are concerned about a friend, ask them about it. Get some ideas about how to do that at Seize the Awkward.
  • If your friend is depressed, encourage them to tell an adult such as a parent, teacher or school counsellor, or to contact one of the helplines on this page.
  • Don't carry your concerns alone: tell an adult if you are worried about a friend, such as a parent, teacher, school counsellor, or you can call one of the helplines too to talk about a friend.

Learn more

Depression support Health Navigator NZ
Depression resources Health Navigator NZ
Depression apps Health Navigator NZ
Find out how to tell if someone is struggling with their mental health BBC, UK, 2021

Self-care ideas Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, UK
Online NZ support to strengthen wellbeing Ignite , NZ

Online course

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People A free course by Future Learn. The course has been specifically created for parents of young people with depression and low mood, teachers and primary (or other) healthcare professionals who play a role in detecting mental health difficulties and offering appropriate support and guidance to young people.

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team. Reviewed By: Dr David Chinn, child and adolescent psychiatrist; Tania Stanton, clinical psychologist; and Rewa Murphy, clinical psychologist Last reviewed: 15 May 2019