Are you concerned that you, or someone you care about, may be suffering from depression?
Many people experience low moods where they feel sad and/or helpless, stressed or vulnerable for periods of time, as they struggle to deal with challenging life experiences. Conflictual family situations, work pressures, financial worries and grief over the loss of someone close to you, can all contribute to these feelings, which are a normal response for a short period of time.
Many people find that these low moods are transient and disappear after a few days or weeks as worries subside, and life gets back to relative normality.
Dysthymia (Persistent mild depression)
For some people these low moods do not disappear, and may develop into the most common form of depression called dysthymia or persistent mild depression. Often dysthymia develops over a long period of time, sometimes even originating in childhood, and the low moods are habitual and feel “normal”. People suffering with this type of depression may find there is an absence of “joy” in their life or that their view of life is somewhat pessimistic, and that life feels like a struggle. This can be a “hidden” depression, which is not recognized until something happens to tip the balance, and they find themselves having difficulty coping at home, work or in relationships.
Major or “Clinical” Depression is a more severe form of depression affecting the way you think, the way you feel and the way you behave. If left untreated Major Depression can result in feelings of despair and hopelessness, increasing isolation and powerlessness and eventually suicidal thinking. It is crucial to seek support and treatment before a crisis develops.
Bipolar is a mood disorder characterised by cycling mood swings from one polarity of depression and feeling down, to the opposite polarity of feeling high or excited, and energized. There are a range of presentations and types of bipolar disorder and more information is available on our website.
Episodes of depression can be related to other problems, which need to be diagnosed and treated at the same time to prevent relapse, such as anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and addictions.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
- Difficulty making decisions
- Critical of and/or blaming self and/or others
- Pessimistic thoughts
- Lack of self esteem and/or loss of confidence
- Loss of interest in aspects of life that would previously interested you
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Thinking that life is not worth living, or despairing about the future
- Thoughts of harming yourself, or thinking about suicide
- Feeling overwhelmed and/or powerless at times
- Feeling sad, guilty, lonely, agitated and or despairing at times
- Feeling shame, worthless and/or inadequate at times
- Feeling down even when good things happen
Behavioural and Physical Symptoms
- Loss of energy, or often feeling tired
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in sex, or sexual difficulties
- Loss of enjoyment or interest in physical or social activities
- Over eating or loss of appetite
- Isolating and /or avoiding other people
- Not getting as much done as much as you used to
Causes of Depression
Depression generally has many contributing factors, which may include:
- Genetics and biochemical imbalance
There is research evidence that a genetic predisposition to depression runs in families, though this is not enough to cause the development of depression alone. It does put people at greater risk for developing depression if they were to experience challenging life events.
Disordered neurochemistry means that the chemicals in the brain that affect how we feel, can be underperforming or lacking, in some types of depression. Different types of antidepressant medication can improve the symptoms of depression very effectively if this is a key cause.
- Personality, stress and faulty belief factors
For many people pessimistic and disordered ways of thinking about themselves and the world become habitual, and can evolve into depression. People at risk of depression may have low self-esteem, anxiety, suffer with shyness and/ or can be perfectionistic. They may have distorted and faulty thinking, negative self-talk, unresolved issues and resentments, pessimistic and/or judgmental attitudes which all contribute to the development, and exacerbation of, depression.
- Unresolved and complicated grief and loss issues
Grief is a natural, healthy and necessary process that helps us work through the pain of loss, and to accommodate the changes in our life. When people do not have the opportunity to work through their grief, have multiple, traumatic or complicated grief issues and/or little appropriate support, they may not be able to move on to a level of acceptance and resolution about the loss they have experienced.
Recovery from a depression is likely to be more successful when underlying causes and environmental factors are addressed at the same time as the presenting symptoms and problems are treated.
Managing depression can be challenging, exhausting and risky when attempting it alone. For this reason professional support and treatment is strongly recommended.
Depression is most effectively treated in a therapeutic environment supported by health professionals who specialize in treating mood disorders such as depression.
Take the first step into treatment today by phoning or emailing our assessment team on 1800 063 332.
Do you need support right now?
People suffering with depression often have difficulty recognizing that they need help, or reaching out for the help they need.
If you are feeling hopeless, despairing or having thoughts of suicide and need immediate help, we recommend you contact Lifeline where you will find a telephone counsellor available to speak to 24 hours a day.