Dealing with anger, sadness and depression

If you’re feeling very down, your appetite has changed a lot, or you get angry more easily, these could be signs of depression. We know it's not all roses and sunshine, but you can and will get through this.

What does
depression feel like?

Everyone’s different, but you may experience these changes:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or empty
    You feel down or irritated most of the day, nearly every day.

  • Loss of interest or apathy
    You lose motivation to do things you used to enjoy, like going to movies, cooking and seeing friends or whānau.

  • Feeling irritable or hostile
    Your behaviour becomes emotionally charged or aggressive, and you don't always know why.

  • Feeling alone
    Isolating yourself from whānau and friends


Your mood is really low and you feel down in the dumps. When we’re anxious or feel depressed, the waters of our bodies are dragged towards Papatūānuku.


You feel ashamed or shame about who you are or your situation. Maybe you’re spending a lot of time and energy focused on being unfairly treated. The whakamā is because of not feeling able to control the situation or feeling like someone is trampling on our mana (prestige) or the mana of our whānau.


Our thoughts jump from one thing to another and make it hard for us to concentrate.


This is the desperate state we can go into when something horrific has happened to us, like losing someone we’re really close to. It might even make us feel like we are cold to touch. People say whakamomori is like being somewhere between life and death.

Not wanting to manaaki (care for others)

Everyone’s wellbeing increases when we give to others. For Māori, there is a cultural expectation to manaaki. If we’ve been brought up this way but aren’t doing it now, it might be a sign that we’re not feeling so great at the moment.


This is the experience of emotional pain or distress. This can come from stressful things happening in our lives right now. It can also come from the pain our tipuna have experienced that has been passed down from one generation to the next. For some, whakamamae is also expressed physically.

Whatever cultural background you belong to it’s important to recognise that something serious is going on when you have these feelings.

What else
might I notice?

  • Change in appetite or significant weight change
    Your weight and appetite are a lot less or a lot more than usual.

  • Sleep disturbances or fatigue
    You are sleeping too little or too much, or feel low on energy which isn’t fixed by rest or sleep.

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
    You drink more alcohol than before or start using drugs.

  • Risky or escapist behaviour
    You engage in reckless driving, compulsive gambling or spending a lot of time at work or on sports.

You may have thoughts of death or suicide. If you're having these thoughts, it’s important to speak to someone immediately.
Support from a trained counsellor

Free call or text 1737 to speak to a
trained counsellor, or call the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)


Call the Samaritans on 0800 726 666 to speak to someone confidentially if you’re experiencing loneliness, depression or distress.


Speak to qualified counsellors or trained volunteers by calling Lifeline on 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).

How to
take action

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about life, take action because things can get better. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Talk to someone you trust, especially when things are tough.

  • Get moving - exercise does great things to your tinana and hinengaro.

  • Take a break – you don’t need to solve every challenge today, so give yourself some downtime.

  • All good things take time, start with small habits which help build momentum and more change.

  • Break ‘rules’ you might impose on yourself – for example, run the dishwasher again if you haven’t had the energy to unstack it straight away.

  • Get out and do something you enjoy with a friend.

  • If you’ve tried some of the things above and still feel bad, talk to a professional for advice and support.

Who can help?

Your doctor or care team

Talk to your nurse, doctor, hauora provider or someone else in your care team. They can help you understand your prostate cancer (matepukupuku repeure) diagnosis, treatment and side effects, listen to your concerns, and put you in touch with other people who can help.

Some general practices include a Heath Improvement Practitioner to provide mental wellbeing support and follow-up. They can see anyone (of any age) who needs to make changes in their lives to improve wellbeing. Ask your doctor if this service is available.

Trained counsellors or wellbeing support providers

At a time when you have so much on your shoulders, someone who’ll listen without judgment is critical. Talking to someone kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face) is a really good option. There are different people who can help you deal with mental health issues, including hauora providers. You can also look for rongoā Māori healers.

Counsellors are trained to listen and can help you to find your own ways to deal with things. Many hospitals have counsellors or psychologists who specialise in helping people with cancer - ask your doctor or care team at the hospital if this is available. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you can seek out a private counsellor yourself.
You can also call 1737 at any time to speak to a trained counsellor for free.

Find out more information and search for counsellors in your area on the New Zealand Association of counsellors website.

You may also be able to access free psychology and counselling services in your local area through the Cancer Society. Some people find one session very useful, and others appreciate ongoing support.

Additional Resources

Improve your mental wellbeing

Learn how to manage stress, calm your mind or lift your mood.

Get mental health support

Access services, get support and learn about caring for your mental wellbeing

Cancer Society of New Zealand

Access cancer support nurses, one-on-one support and counselling services

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Find a support group or network near you

Find information and support on taking care of yourself and others

A resource provided by Te Hiringa Hauora (the Health Promotion Agency)

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Dealing with anger, sadness and depression, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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