Palmerston North author and journalist Leanne Warr has lived with depression for over 30 years.

Warr, now 48, was diagnosed with depression when she was 17.

"I had no idea what it was and in the 80s this was not really talked about."

It started off as anxiety attacks, which her GP told her were psychosomatic.


"I was taken aback. I'd read enough horror stories about mental illness to think that I was suddenly going to be locked up."

Fortunately, that wasn't the case.

She has learned to manage the depression and on February 28 Warr will launch her book Living With Depression.

She interviewed others who have also been through their own journeys.

"The important thing for me to get across was that different people experience depression in different ways.

"It doesn't mean that their experience is any better or worse than anyone else's."

Her new book hopes to not only demonstrate exactly what it is like living with depression, but also to offer some strategies to help others.

She says she feels her book is different from others, especially since the area of mental health doesn't really delve deeply into other people's experiences.


"I admire people like Sir John Kirwan and Mike King who have done a lot to help promote depression, but in some ways, I can't relate to their experiences so much.

"They're well known, I'm just an ordinary person with ordinary struggles.

"That is what is different about my book.

"It has stories by ordinary people – people you could just meet on the street."

Warr's research found that for over 600,000 Kiwis, day-to-day life can be a struggle.

Even getting out of bed in the mornings can seem like climbing Mount Everest.

She has also researched and attempted to explain depression in a way that may help promote better understanding of the illness, including its causes.

"Up until several years ago, research was focused on depression being caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

"Now people are beginning to realise that things like genetics and environment play their parts.

"Financial hardship, for instance, is one of the major causes.

"Abuse - emotional or physical, is another."

Warr also explores through her own journey the effects of bullying, self-esteem and emotional abuse and how they have been major factors in her own illness.

She has also taken some of the lessons she has learnt through her journey to provide tools people can use to manage their own depression.

"Things like being active, eating well, pet therapy," Warr says.

"I just took what I've learnt and found ways to manage it.

"I'm now hoping those lessons can help guide someone else to find their own way to live with it."

In 2017, statistics released by the Ministry of Health estimated around 16 per cent of Kiwis had episodes of depression lasting longer than two weeks.

Worldwide, around four per cent (more than 300 million) of people are estimated to have depression.

However, this does not take into account that there are some countries where the subject is taboo.

Having depression does not preclude people from living normal lives, Warr says.

In spite of her battles, she managed to complete two degrees at university and is now studying psychology so she can understand more about her own mental health and go on to help others.

She has also written several novels under a pen-name and is constantly working on new stories.

The book: Living With Depression: Journeys to Healing will be launched February 28 and will be available through Amazon, Paper Plus Palmerston North and she is talking to local booksellers about stocking it.