Everybody goes through times of fear, worry and sadness . But when those negative emotions are so intense that it feels you’re no longer in control of them, we could call it distress.


Distress can include a huge range of negative feelings. Everyone’s experience is unique and personal to them.

If the main problem is feeling down and miserable, or that there is no interest or pleasure in things, we call it depression . If the main problem is having times of panic, or always being on edge and worrying, we call it anxiety. It’s quite common to experience a bit of both.

Whether you call it distress, depression, or anxiety, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you understand what’s happening, and know what you can do to feel better.

How common is it?*

If you’re experiencing distress you’re certainly not alone.

At some point in their life many people will go through it too: 

  • 1 in 7 will experience depression before they are 24 years old
  • 1 in 8 men will experience depression 
  • 1 in 5 women will experience depression
  • 1 in 4 New Zealanders will experience anxiety 
  • 1 in 5 people with depression or anxiety will experience both at the same time