Today marks World Health Day. This year, we are all encouraged to talk about depression, so let’s talk.
What depression is and what it is not…
Feeling sad and down from time to time is a natural part of life. Usually, these feelings don’t last long and we are able to get on with our lives. This is not depression.
Depression is much more than sadness. It is a serious mental health condition. It affects the way we feel about ourselves and interferes with the way we go about our everyday lives. Depression has a variety of symptoms, and might look differently in different people. So even if you only have one or two of the symptoms, it is a good idea to check with your GP.
You might feel… sad, bad about yourself, alone, angry, guilty
You might have thoughts like… “Life is too hard”, “I’m a failure”, “everything is going wrong”
You might notice changes in…motivation, sleep, appetite or weight, interest in sex, concentration.
There are different types of depression and treatments can vary. If you think you may have depression, it is always a good idea to discuss the way you feel with your health professional, as they can offer the best advice. Remember, you are not alone.
Depression is very common…
Approximately 1 in 20 Australians are affected by depression each year, with over 300 million people worldwide estimated to be living with depression. It is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.
Causes of depression…
The cause of depression is not fully known. However, we do know that a number of things are linked to its development. These include difficult life events, such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive relationship, long-term isolation, or prolonged work stress. Family history, personality factors and serious medical conditions can also predispose someone to depression. Biochemical factors, including our brain chemistry, can also predispose us, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about this. What we do know is that there is no one cause of depression. The cause is a combination of things.
What helps and what hinders…
The way we think and behave can have serious consequences for the way we feel. For example, when someone is depressed they will often withdraw from activities that they used to enjoy and instead do things that are unrewarding, like lying in bed or brooding over problems, which only makes them feel worse. They spend less time engaged in challenging and rewarding behaviours, like positive social interactions, being physically active, learning or doing productive tasks.
This often has a lot to do with the way people think. Typically, people are likely to become depressed if they blame and criticise themselves heavily, put increased pressure on themselves to be ‘perfect’, and if they believe that their circumstances will never change.
If someone has depression, or suspects they have depression, it is important that they seek help from a GP or another qualified health professional. Talking about the way we feel can make a big difference. Treatment is available and depression can be successfully managed. After speaking with a health professional, it can help to reach out to other people too, like trusted family or friends. This makes people feel a lot less alone.
Being physically active can be a challenge for people who feel down, but being active can have a powerful effect on our mood. It can also help with improving our quality of sleep.
Finally, showing ourselves compassion for what we are dealing with can significantly improve the way we feel. It helps to remind ourselves that life is hard sometimes, but we are doing the best we can right now.
TO SUM UP:
- Depression is a very common and serious mental health condition
- It is characterised by long-lasting feelings of sadness, hopelessness and lack of motivation
- There is no one cause of depression, and usually it is a combination of things that lead to its development
- It is important to seek help from a qualified health professional for depression immediately
- There are things people can do to help their symptoms, like reaching out to others, being physically active and being kind to oneself.
For more information and support:
1300 224 636
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