Everyone has moments of sadness throughout their life, however sometimes sadness can last longer than it should. When sadness hangs around for too long, usually more than two weeks, and starts impacting your everyday life, ability to carry out normal activities or find pleasure in things you normally like doing, then you may have some of the indicators for depression.
Depression is a term we hear more frequently these days because a lot of the stigma has been removed, in part by the media but also by awareness campaigns by websites like Beyond Blue and high profile patrons like former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett. Also people are beginning to realise that it is reasonably common and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact in any calendar year in Australia at least 1 million people will experience some level of depression[i], and 45% of the entire Australian population will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime[ii].
Depression is a constant feeling of dejection, loss or lack of motivation which stops you from completing your day to day activities as you would normally. There are different types of depression with different levels of severity the extreme end of which can be disabling and even life threatening. Depression does not normally occur because of single event, but because of a combination of factors and events over a period of a time that result in a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Below is a list of some of the common signs and symptoms of depression. If you feel you may be depressed or are experiencing a lack of motivation or sadness you can’t seem to get on top of then see your doctor for a proper assessment. It is important to talk about it to a professional who can get you the help you need. There is nothing wrong with needing help.
Remember though that we all experience some of the symptoms listed below on occasion, and it may not necessarily mean you’re depressed. Also, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.
Changes in behaviour caused by depression
- not wanting to go out anymore
- finding it hard to get things done at work/school
- withdrawal from family and friends
- using alcohol and sedatives to help
- lack of desire to do usually enjoyable activities
- difficulty concentrating
Feelings caused by depression
- lacking in confidence
Some common thoughts caused by depression
- ‘I’m a failure.’
- ‘It’s my fault.’
- ‘Nothing good ever happens to me.’
- ‘I’m worthless.’
- ‘Life’s not worth living.’
- ‘People would be better off without me.’
The physical impacts of depression
- feeling tired all the time
- being sick and run down
- frequent headaches and muscle pains
- unsettled or churning stomach
- problems sleeping (either too much or too little)
- loss of appetite
- noticeable weight loss or gain
Once again if you feel you may be depressed or are experiencing a lack of motivation or sadness you can’t seem to get on top of then see your doctor for a proper assessment. Also see beyondblue.org.au for more detailed information.
Never trust a self diagnosis though, if you’re not sure go and see a doctor.
[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.
[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.