Depression happens when feelings of intense sadness, worthlessness and hopelessness last for weeks and keep you from functioning normally. Important signs of depression could be experiencing a depressed mood or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

Depression is able to be treated, but when it is not properly managed it can seriously interfere with your life.

Remember: Mental health experts say that most people who have depression – 80% or more – can feel better when they receive treatment. Many see some improvement in their symptoms as soon as 4 to 6 weeks after starting treatment.

What are the types of Depression?

Major Depression – also known as Clinical Depression: This type of depression is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. There are times when you may feel sad, lonely, or hopeless for a few days. In the case of major depression these symptoms last longer and are disabling. Major Depression can prevent you from functioning normally. In order to meet the criteria for this type of depression the symptoms should be present daily or for most of the day for at least two weeks.

Chronic Depression or Dysthymia: This type of depression is characterized by a long-term (two years or more) depressed mood. Chronic depression is less severe than major depression and typically does not disable the person. If you have dysthymia or chronic depression, you may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during your lifetime.

Atypical Depression: This type of depression tends to be marked by pervasive sadness and a pattern of loss of appetite and difficulty falling or staying asleep. Its main symptoms include: overeating, oversleeping, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to rejection and moods that worsen or improve in direct response to events.

Bipolar Depression or Manic Depression: This is a complex mood disorder that alternates between periods of clinical depression and times of extreme elation or mania. There are two subtypes of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II.

 What could be the causes of Depression?

Depression is a complex disease. It happens for a variety of reasons. Some people could experience depression during a serious medical illness. Other people may have depression with life changes such as losing their jobs or the death of a loved one. Still others could have a family history of depression.

Some of the following factors could increase the chance of depression:

  • Major events. Events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. In the same way losing a job, getting divorced or retiring can all result in depression.
  • Other personal problems. Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can lead to depression.
  • Abuse. Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can cause depression later in life.
  • Conflict. Depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
  • Substance abuse. Approximately 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.
  • Certain medications. Some drugs, such as Accutane (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, can increase your risk of depression.
  • Serious illnesses. Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or is a reaction to the illness.


Can Genetics be connected to the possibility of developing Depression? Depression can sometimes run in families. Family members suffering with depression are, to a certain degree, more likely to suffer from depression than other members of the general population.

Can Chronic Pain cause Depression? Chronic pain could be ongoing pain lasting for weeks to months. When a person experiences chronic pain it could disturb their sleep, their ability to exercise and be active, their relationships, and their productivity at work. These limitations and effects could lead a person to feel isolated, sad and depressed.

Can Grief cause Depression? Any person can experience grief and loss, but not every person will experience depression. Depression involves feelings of low self-worth and in extreme cases suicide, while grief involves feelings of loss and longing for a loved one.

Are Depression and Anxiety common conditions?

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In Australia, it is estimated that 45 % of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.

While depression and anxiety are different conditions, it is not uncommon for them to occur at the same time. Over half of those who experience depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. In some cases, one can lead to the onset of the other.

How is Depression diagnosed?

Your doctor can make a diagnosis of depression by talking to you and asking you questions about your symptoms.

Depression is usually diagnosed if you have:

  • Low mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy

Plus at least four of these symptoms:

  • An increase or decrease of your weight or appetite
  • Sleeping a lot or less than usual
  • Feeling very restless or lethargic
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Problems concentrating or making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death, or thinking about or attempting suicide.
  • For depression to be diagnosed, these symptoms must:
  • Have been present most days in the past 2 weeks
  • Be a change from your usual state and affect your ability to function normally
  • Not be a symptom of another medical or psychological illness

How to treat Depression?

Depression exists in many different forms, ranging on a spectrum from mild to severe. This means that a treatment plan for depression is going to look different for every person. The treatment can be either medication and/or psychological therapy.

Types of psychological treatments that might be used include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this is the most recognized type of therapy, it is where a psychologist works with you to change negative thought patterns and behaviour that could be causing you problems.
  • Counselling is where a counsellor talks to you about your problems and helps you figure out exactly what the big problems are.
  • Interpersonal therapy – This is a structured therapy for improving relationships.
  • Other types of psychotherapy. This can include things like acceptance and commitment therapy or structured problem solving (which involves working with a therapist to identify problems and figuring out how to overcome them) and these are delivered by a range of mental health professionals.

Can Depression be prevented?

The latest medical studies confirm that depression may often be alleviated and sometimes prevented with good health habits. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and taking time out for fun and relaxation, may work together to prevent a depressed mood.



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