Depression is a COMMON mental illness which can affect anyone at anytime. Around one million Australian adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year. On average, one in six people will experience depression in their lifetime – one in five females and one in eight males.
It is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being.
The five main types of depression
- Major depression – a depressed mood that lasts for at least two weeks. This may also be referred to as clinical depression or unipolar depression.
- Psychotic depression – a depressed mood which includes symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis involves seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations), feeling everyone is against you (paranoia) and having delusions.
- Dysthymia – a less severe depressed mood that lasts for years.
- Mixed depression and anxiety – a combination of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Bipolar disorder – (formerly known as manic depressive illness) involves periods of feeling low (depressed) and high (manic).
Signs and symptoms
- Withdrawing from close family and friends
- Not participating in usual enjoyable activities
- Feeling overwhelmed, irritable, miserable, sad
- Feeling tired all the time
- Headaches and muscle pains
- Loss or changes in appetite,
- Sleep problems
- Thoughts of “being a failure” and “life is not worth living”
What causes depression?
- Continuing difficult life events (e.g. long-term unemployment, living in isolation)
- Family history – depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased risk.
- Personality – people who worry a lot, have low self-esteem and are self-critical may be more at risk of developing depression
- Serious medical illness – serious illnesses can bring about depression directly or can contribute to depression through associated stress and worry
- Drug and alcohol use
- Changes in the brain – it is not fully understood how depression develops, however evidence suggests it may be related to changes in the level or activity of certain chemicals – particularly serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Treatments for depression
- Psychological therapies
- Drug therapy
- Education and counselling
Where to get professional help
- Life Line on 13 11 14
- Visit your GP
- Speak to one of our counsellors
- Mensline on 1300 78 99 78
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
- Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800