Depression

What is Depression?

Everyone has experienced a low mood or ‘the blues' after a sad, traumatic or stressful event and people usually begin to feel better within a week or two. Depression, on the other hand, is an illness, which can be severe and persistent, and has a negative affect on all areas of life including study, physical heath, and family and social relationships.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Although symptoms vary from person to person, common symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood that hangs around for longer than a few weeks (I can't shake it off)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities (I don't enjoy anything much any more)
  • Feeling ‘empty' or ‘numb'
  • Crying more than usual
  • Significant weight gain or loss (without dieting)
  • Sleep problems (I wake up really early; I can't get to sleep; I wake up throughout the night; I sleep much more than usual)
  • Loss of energy or feeling tired or lethargic for no real reason (I'm exhausted but I haven't done anything; I still feel tired when I wake up)
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, guilty or responsible for things beyond your control (I'm pathetic; I'll never be able to do it; I'm a terrible person; I should be able to do it better than this; It's all my fault)
  • Poor concentration, fuzzy thinking (I just can't think/ remember anything/ take it in/ understand it/ keep up)
  • Loss of interest in sexual activity (I can't be bothered; I haven't got the energy)
  • Feeling physically unwell, run down, aches or pains (I feel terrible)
  • Avoiding contact with people (It's too much effort to be around people)
  • Feeling irritable, ‘touchy', or anxious (I'm really short-tempered all the time)
  • Having thoughts of self-harm or suicide (I just can't take this any more...)

Who experiences depression?

Anyone can experience depression. It's been estimated that 1 in 5 people will experience depression at some time in their lives. More than 1 in 10 young Australian women aged between 18 - 24 years had a mood disorder in 1997, while around 3% of young men of the same age were affected. Studies suggest that rates of depression and anxiety could be much higher among university students due to study, relationship, financial and other pressures often associated with university life.

What protects people from depression?

  • Positive thinking habits
  • Behaviours and activities that encourage health and general wellbeing
  • Communicating assertively (being clear about your feelings, thoughts and needs)
  • Having friends and relatives that you can talk to and rely on
  • Coping well with stress
  • Healthy self-esteem
  • Good problem solving skills

What should I do if I think I'm depressed?

The good news is that depression is treatable. There are many different ways to help a person overcome depression and treatment is always tailored to the individual. Essentially treatments for depression involves counselling (from a psychologist, psychiatrist or trained counsellor), prescribed medication, or a combination of both. Some therapies include social-skills training, cognitive-behavioural strategies or an analysis of past events which have impacted on a person's current perceptions of themselves.

Many people will try self-help strategies as the first option in managing mild to moderate symptoms. Evidence suggests that self-help books, many of which are based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can be helpful in mild to moderate depression.   This is known as bibliotherapy.  Some self-help strategies can be very useful, and the self-help information on this site offers practical tips for self-management.

Research suggests that the benefits of self-help books and other strategies can be improved by getting even a little bit of guidance from a professional, so get some help if you (a) need support to practice the techniques (b) aren't improving on your own or begin to feel worse (c) think about harming yourself in any way. Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or university counsellor.

If you are feeling worried, anxious or depressed you can assess your level of distress by doing our online self assessment.  The results page from this assessment will give you some suggestions about things to consider for your level of distress.

 

Depression information by beyondblue

beyondblue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to increase awareness and understanding of anxiety and depression in Australia and to reduce the associated stigma. Their detailed information on depression covers the causes and types of depression, signs and symptoms and available treatments.

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression

Depression fact sheet - Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program

Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program (OYHCP) is a world-leading youth mental health program based in Melbourne, Australia. Their fact sheet about depression includes information on types of depression, treatment and how to get help.

http://oyh.org.au/sites/oyh.org.au/files/factsheets/oyh_fs_dep.pdf

Depression explained by the Black Dog Institute

The Black Dog Institute is an educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility in NSW. Their information sheet on depression includes specific information regarding signs and symptoms, depressed mood and how to tell if someone has depression.

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/public/depression/depressionexplained/index.cfm

Depressive disorders fact sheet in various languages - Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHMA)

MHMA provides national leadership in mental health and suicide prevention for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. Fact sheets about depressive disorders are available in twenty-three different languages.

http://www.mhima.org.au/resources-and-information/Translated-information/translated-mental-health-information-resources

It's not always easy to help someone who may be experiencing depression. It can be hard to know what to say or do. Below are some tips.

  • Talk to the person about how they're feeling.
  • Listen to what the person says - sometimes, when a person wants to talk, they're not always seeking advice, but just need to voice their concerns.
  • Maintain eye contact and sit in a relaxed position - positive body language will help the person feel more comfortable.
  • Use open-ended questions such as "So tell me about...?" which require more than a 'yes' or 'no' answer. This is often a good way to start a conversation.
  • If conversation becomes difficult or if the person with depression gets angry, stay calm, be firm, fair and consistent and don't lose control.
  • Often, just spending time with the person lets them know someone cares and understands them.
  • Encourage the person to seek professional help from their family doctor or a counsellor.

Take care of yourself. Supporting someone with depression can be demanding. Family and friends should take 'time out' to look after themselves.

Information for family and friends by beyondblue

beyondblue provides information packs for families and carers of people who suffer from depression. Click on the link below to find out more.

beyondblue

beyondblue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to increase awareness and understanding of anxiety and depression in Australia and to reduce the associated stigma.

http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Black Dog Institute

An educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility in NSW offering specialist expertise in mood disorders including depression and bipolar disorder.

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHMA)

MHMA provides national leadership in mental health and suicide prevention for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

http://www.mhima.org.au/

Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program (OYHCP)

Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program (OYHCP) is a world-leading youth mental health program based in Melbourne, Australia. OYHCP sees young people aged 15 to 25, with a focus on early intervention and youth specific approaches.

http://oyh.org.au/

Reconnexion

Reconnexion, based in Melbourne, provides a specialist counselling service for adults and young people experiencing anxiety disorders, depression and benzodiazepine dependency and withdrawal.

http://www.reconnexion.org.au

Get Help Now