Depression is a common experience.
We have all felt ‘depressed’ about a friend’s cold shoulder, misunderstandings in our marriage, tussles with teenage children – sometimes we feel ‘down’ for no reason at all.
However, depression can become an illness when:
- The mood state is severe
- It lasts for 2 weeks or more and
- It interferes with our ability to function at home or at work.
- Signs of a depressed mood include:
- Lowered self-esteem (or self-worth)
- Change in sleep patterns, that is, insomnia or broken sleep
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Less ability to control emotions such as pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
- Varying emotions throughout the day, for example, feeling worse in the morning and better as the day progresses
- Reduced capacity to experience pleasure: you can’t enjoy what’s happening now, nor look forward to anything with pleasure. Hobbies or interests drop off.
- Reduced pain tolerance: you are less able to tolerate aches and pains and may have a host of new ailments
- Changed sex drive: absent or reduced
- Poor concentration and memory: some people are so impaired that they think that they are going demented
- Reduced motivation: it doesn’t seem worth the effort to do anything, things seem meaningless
- Lowered energy levels.
- If you have such feelings and they persist for most of every day for two weeks or longer, and interfere with your ability to manage at home and at work, then you might benefit from getting an assessment by a skilled professional.
Having one or other of these features, by themselves, is unlikely to indicate depression,however there could be other causes which may warrant medical assessment.
A large number of different treatments are available for depression. New treatments (particularly medications) appear regularly. Continuing research means that the evidence for how well a treatment works is always changing too.
Has a wealth of fact sheets to provide specific information. People are welcome to download copies of these resources:
- Fact sheets on depression
- Fact sheets on bipolar disorder
- General fact sheets
- Daily mood charts
- Staying well techniques
Beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. beyondblue works in partnership with health services, schools, workplaces, universities, media and community organisations, as well as people living with depression, to bring together their expertise around depression.
There are different checklists that can help you get a better idea of whether you or someone you know has symptoms of depression. Visit beyondblue to access their depression checklists.