Sadness and feeling down are normal emotions. They can occur, for example, when dealing with difficult events in your life such as losing a job or a relationship breakup. Most of us usually cope and eventually the feelings pass.
But depression is more than that. It happens when these feelings are longer lasting and have a greater negative impact on your life.
Depression is a common medical condition, with one in five females and one in eight males affected once in their lifetimes. Just like any other condition, recognising that you or someone you know has depression is the first step towards receiving the best possible treatment that can achieve a recovery.
Unfortunately, up to 20% of people with depression are never diagnosed. If left untreated, in most cases it can last for weeks or months.
How do you recognise depression?
1) You may have depression, if for more than 2 weeks you have either:
- Been feeling sad, down or miserable most of the time, or
- Lost interest or pleasure in most of your usual activities
2) And you also have a number of these symptoms:
|Not getting things done||“I’m a failure>|
|Stopped going out||“It’s my fault”|
|Withdrawn from close family and friends||“Nothing good ever happens to me”|
|Relying on alcohol and sedatives||“I’m worthless”|
|Stopped doing things you enjoy||“Life is not worth living”|
|Unable to concentrate|
|Overwhelmed||Tired all the time|
|Unhappy, depressed||Sick and run down|
|Irritable||Headaches and muscle pains|
|No confidence||Can’t sleep|
Depression varies widely. For some people, the symptoms are so numerous and severe it’s obvious something isn’t right. Others feel only a few symptoms and it’s harder to recognise.
What to do?
If you suspect you or someone you know has depression, seek help as soon as possible. Talking to friends and family is a good start. Seeing your doctor is recommended, particularly when feeling overwhelmed and feelings are negatively affecting your life. If you’re feeling suicidal, you should immediately ring Lifeline (131 114) or tell your doctor.
Treatments for depression include: 1) medications and 2) psychological therapy. Doing regular physical activity (exercise) can also be beneficial. Your doctor can provide explanations of the treatment choices and help decide which one is best for you.