Depression isn’t just feeling ‘low’ after a sad or stressful experience. Depression is a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.
A person may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, he or she has felt sad, down or miserable most of the time or has lost interest or pleasure in usual activities. Common symptoms include loss of interest in life, feeling helpless and hopeless, feeling worthless, being anxious, irritable or moody, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, appetite and weight changes, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, thoughts of suicide or death, problems with sexual function, headaches and muscle pains or increase in alcohol or drug use.
Anyone can suffer from depression but it is more common in people with a family history of depression. While the exact cause of depression isn’t known, a number of factors can be associated with its development. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a combination of recent events and other long-term personal factors. It is thought that these factors can trigger a chemical imbalance in the brain, which may be part of the cause of depression.
Treatment often involves several different approaches and is dependant upon the type and severity of depression. Talking is often the first step in managing depression. Counselling is a major component in the treatment of depression. Antidepressant medicines can be used in conjunction with counseling to treat the chemical imbalance in the brain.
If you feel you may be suffering the symptoms of depression, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or contact a support organization such as Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 www.beyondblue.org.au