Despite its prevalence — one in five women and one in eight men in Australia will experience depression at some time in their lives — many people remain unsure of what depression actually is.
Depression is more than just feeling low or down. Most of us feel that way from time to time. Those who experience depression are more likely to feel these feelings more intensely and for longer periods of time. Sometimes, they may feel depressed ‘for no good reason’.
People with depression can have difficulty functioning in everyday life, and may lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed.
Depression is a serious illness. However, you should not feel ashamed or afraid of it. Millions of Australians have suffered from depression and now live normal lives. They key is in seeking treatment.
Signs of depression
The following (if experienced for two or more weeks) are typical signs of depression:
- Feelings of sadness or misery
- Increased moodiness
- Irritability and frustration
- Difficulty accepting personal criticisms
- Withdrawal from social situations with friends and family
- Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Skipping work or school
- Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
- Recklessness (e.g. driving too fast or dangerously)
- Slowing down of thoughts and actions.
The key in fighting depression is to seek treatment. The longer your depression goes untreated, the worse it may become.
It can be very difficult to take that first step in admitting you need help, but something that is well worth doing.
If you feel you may need help with depression, please speak to your general practitioner.
Further information on depression and mental health can also be found at http://www.beyondblue.org.au/.