Depression, Anxiety and Maori
Wainuku and whakamā
There are lots of ways to describe not feeling right or feeling like life is going in the wrong direction. This site calls it depression or anxiety. As Māori, these are some of the things we might experience:
Wainuku – when 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.
Whakamā – when you feel ashamed or shame about who you are or your situation. Maybe you’re spending a lot of time and energy focussed 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.
Nekeneke – when our thoughts jump from one thing to another and make it hard for us to concentrate.
Whakamomori – 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.
Whakamamae – 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 words we use, it’s important to recognise that something serious is going on when we have these feelings. It doesn’t look the same for any two people either, no matter who we are or where we come from. You can learn more about the signs of depression and anxiety on this site.