Major changes

It can be difficult to adjust to changes in your life, even positive ones

Whether it’s something you’ve been expecting, or something that comes completely out of the blue, big changes can have a huge impact on your life and trigger or make distress worse. Understanding the effects of change can help you adjust faster with less conflict and emotional upset.


Unexpected losses, events or challenging situations come across our paths from time to time, and can cause significant stress. A single stressful event may trigger depression or anxiety at any point in life. 

“Traumatic events” like accidents, natural disasters, suicide or being attacked, can result in emotional and psychological trauma.  These unexpected events can have a huge impact on all aspects of our wellbeing.

Other events can also be challenging, as they require you to make adjustments to your everyday life and they sometimes change how you see yourself:

  • Illness, injury or developing a long term medical condition 
  • Job loss, new job
  • Relationship break-up
  • Change in whānau make-up (new member, blended whānau, break-up)
  • Death or suicide of a close friend or whānau member
  • Change in living conditions

 While you may not have control over the events themselves, you can help by  the way you respond to them. Simply ignoring them may only make things worse. 

The problem solving technique in our self-help section can show you how to deal with events more effectively. 

Changes to your role in life

Even though life changes are often anticipated, like becoming a parent or stopping work, you might find it harder than expected to adjust because they usually affect important areas of your life:

  • Where you live
  • How you define yourself
  • Your goals in life
  • People’s expectations of you
  • Your beliefs (not just religious)
  • Who you have around to support you

The hardship, challenges and conflict that come along with these life changes can contribute to depression and anxiety. 

Keep in mind that when a major change takes place for someone, it can affect the whole whānau, e.g. having a baby/pēpi – this involves new roles and responsibilities for not just the parents, but potentially for the whole whānau – siblings, grandparents, cousins and aunts/uncles, and this requires some adjustment by everyone. 

Find out more about some of the most challenging changes we go through below:

What next

Once you understand what is contributing to the way you feel, you can learn what to do to start feeling better.

How to get better

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