We have all felt down, sad, or unhappy from time to time. Maybe it’s lasted a few minutes, a couple of hours, or days. People who suffer from depression, or what can be called chronic sadness or unhappiness, feel this way and even worse more often than not.
One in seven of us will develop depression at some stage in their life-time. Depression is one of the leading burden of diseases in Australia, along with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and alcohol dependence. This means that depression has a significant impact on our society. In fact, the World Health Organisation estimates that depression will be THE health concern globally by 2030.
Depression happens to all sorts of people: those of us who seem to have it all – money, a successful career, nice house, a loving family etc; those of us who are down on our luck due to – money worries, illness, drug dependency, unemployment, loneliness, or grief; even those of us who seem to be happy, confident and positive. Depression is a bit like a contagious flu, potentially it can affect anyone of us.
There are three main reasons so many of us can fall into depression:
- Life events – work place stress, prolonged unemployment, relationship breakup, new parenthood, financial difficulties, drug/alcohol addiction, or loss of a loved one
- Psychological causes – a tendency to think negatively, to worry and be self-critical; carrying emotional baggage (unresolved emotional issues) around, and a family history of depression
- Physical Factors – variations in brain chemicals or chronic illness, especially involving pain and decreased mobility
It is important to point out that there is often a combination of factors that contributes to both the onset and maintenance of depression.
Whilst each experience of depression is unique, there are a number of typical signs of depression:
- changes in appetite and/or weight
- self-defeating thoughts, irrational thoughts, unrealistic, negative thoughts
- sleeping more than usual or having trouble sleeping
- feelings of low self-worth and confidence
- withdrawing from loved ones and friends
- a decline in memory capacity, as well as concentration
- a lack of motivation – activities don’t seem worthwhile, enjoyable, or meaningful like they once were
- troubling emotions like sadness, despair, unhappiness, loneliness, anger, irritability, guilt, and worry seem to be more prominent
- increased chance of alcohol/drug dependency and addiction
- despair and a sense of hopelessness about the present and the future
- feeling more down and unhappy in the morning than later in the day
- lack of sexual desire
- more prone to illness and feeling pain and discomfort
If you think you, or someone you know may be depressed, here’s a very useful, and confidential test from the Beyond Blue website that may provide some answers. It’s important to say that any diagnosis of depression can only be made by a health professional.
Several options are available for the treatment of depression. Maybe the first thing to try is to talk to a friend or loved one about how you’re feeling. Sometimes this can really help, and provide a renewed positive perspective and outlook on life.
There are several Health Professionals who can really help you work towards recovery. A G.P. would be a good person to see early on. They can suggest appointments with a Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist, or Social Worker. These can prove very useful as they offer therapy/counselling techniques which both address the reasons the depression developed initially, as well as provide strategies to moderate the symptoms and experience of depression.
These techniques include:
The G.P. may also suggest a course of anti-depressant medication, which can be effective in treating the symptoms of depression. These medications are often prescribed for those people whose depression seems to be related to reduced levels of brain chemicals.
So, for those of us experiencing depression, there is hope.