“I felt empty… like the life was just being drained from me. I felt isolated, inadequate and generally upset all the time – like nobody understood me and I was trapped on the other side of an invisible wall.” – Bradley, 18
“I couldn’t eat, sleep or think straight. As time went on, I was waking up earlier and earlier, sometimes not sleeping at all. Half of my dinner would end up in the bin. Everything became so disorganised at home. I thought everyone was against me, so I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was happening or how I was feeling.” – Nerida, 51
If you feel like this it's possible that you are suffering from depression. So just what is Depression?
Let's start with the facts about depression
- On average, one in six people – one in five women and one in eight men – will experience depression at some stage of their lives
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide
- Over 1 million adults in Australia experience depression every year and yet it’s one of the most misunderstood conditions, often confused with sadness, misery or unhappiness.
While depression and anxiety are different conditions, it is not uncommon for them to occur at the same time. Over half of those who experience depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. In some cases, one can lead to the onset of the other. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts
How can you tell if you or a loved one is suffering from depression?
Depression shows up in our thoughts, feelings and behaviour including negative thoughts about yourself, the future and the world
Feelings - includes our emotions and physical feelings.
Unable to make a decision
Lacking pleasure or enjoyment
|Tired all of the time
Get sick easily
Aches and pains
Changes in sleeping pattern
Changes in appetite
Weight gain or loss
Poor sex life
Depression can cause erectile dysfunction, a decrease in libido and an inability to enjoy sex
If you are feeling overwhelmed • guilty • irritable • frustrated • lacking in confidence • unhappy • indecisive • disappointed • miserable or know someone who is? You may be suffering from depression and the time to see someone is now!
"Asking for help saved my life and I feel like a different person for it." Read Jacqui's story
If these symptoms resonate with you then depression may be the culprit.
Changes of behaviour
A behaviour change is when someone starts to behave in a way that is not normal for them. They act in a way that is not what they normally do.
When we observe behaviour changes in ourselves or others, they maybe outward signs that the person is asking for help. They are experiencing inner pain. If the symptoms continue for more than two weeks it’s time to address them.
So what causes depression?
While the exact cause of depression isn’t known, some things can be associated with its development. Depression does not usually result from a single event, but from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors.
Life events Research suggests that continuing difficulties, such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness or prolonged exposure to stress at work, are more likely to cause depression than recent life stressors.
However, recent events such as losing a job or a combination of events can ‘trigger’ depression in people who are already at risk because of past bad experiences or personal factors.
“For me, it was hereditary, stresses, and an emotionally abusive husband. Having to raise four children and a husband became hard work, and I had no time for myself. I was isolated from family and friends.” – Melissa, 37
“I experienced an unhappy and unsettled transition from school to university, a relationship breakup and stressful living circumstances. There’s also a history of depression and anxiety in my family.” – Jaci, 33 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/resources/bl-0885-anxiety-depression-information-booklet-05-15.pdf?sfvrsn=2
I lost my Dad to depression. Read Kat's story
Work related stress
While working in a juvenile remand centre in Perth Western Australia, I was assaulted by an inmate. The assault caused some physical injuries but it was the actions of the management that were the main contributor to my resulting depression.
I had written to the management warning them that someone was going to be injured. They ignored my concerns.
As it turned out myself and a colleague were the people who were injured.
However, the management wanted to sweep both assaults under the carpet. I didn’t agree and I challenged them.
My wakeup call came from one of my children. She told me I was changing and not for the better. I was becoming very hard on my grandchildren. I realised that I was indeed changing.
It took a little while but because my stress levels were escalating I went to see my Doctor and she referred me to a psychologist. The psychologist told me that if I continued to fight the system I would be back to see him in 18 months and this time he would be putting the pieces back together. Alan, 68
Everyone is different and it’s often a combination of factors that can contribute to a person developing depression. It’s important to note that you can’t always identify the cause of depression or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek support.
Is there hope? Always!
A lot of people find that the first step is the most difficult. They may want to keep their feelings to themselves for fear of judgement.
"You don’t have to feel alone, get help." Read Scott's story
“My fears and worries were plenty. I believed I was weak, incompetent, ‘mental’ if I took medication or sought psychological help. Yes, the first steps are hard, but hey, so is crying all the time and not being able to think or have fun. For me, it was about priority and getting back the person I was and liked.” – Gina, 38
Denial is not a solution
“My initial fear was that when I sought help, I became consciously aware it was a problem. I recognised it as a large issue and that was daunting. The first step was the hardest. However, after taking it, everything became much easier to deal with and move forward.” – Bradley, 18
“I found it very difficult to ask for help. I felt like I was beyond help. And frankly, I didn’t deserve help.” – Margaret, 55
“After many years of ‘ups and downs’, I felt like the only thing that could save me from death was getting help. Getting help was a last resort effort. Don’t wait until you get to your last chance.” – Greg, 42
Health professionals can help
There is no one proven way that people recover from depression. However, there is a range of effective treatments and health professionals who can help people on the road to recovery.
Things you can do
There are also many things that people with depression can do for themselves to help them recover and stay well e.g. healthy diet, regular exercise. However, for more severe depression you may need to seek professional help.
Following this treatment, you are likely to find that your coping skills have improved, that YOU'RE better able to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts.
Get help here
Contact Susann from General Psychology Services and have a chat with her about your experiences. She will identify the issues and tell you how she can support you to better mental health.
Have a look at this This 4-minute video because it explains depression in a fun way. What is depression?
Click here and Email Susann now. The sooner you get help the sooner you will be feeling more like your old self.
A video to watch
This quality BBC documentary talks about depression and is well worth watching.