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What is depression?         

Depression is a is a common mental health condition impacting one in six Australians: one in five women and one in eight men at some stage in their lives (Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008).  National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing:  Summary of Results, 2007.  Cat. No. [4326.0].  Canberra: ABS). 

Depression is not just having a bad day.  Depression is longer lasting and can significantly affect the way you feel, think and act causing a persistent lowering of mood.  Left untreated, depression can negatively impact your relationships and ability to function at work, school or home. 

What are the symptoms of depression?           

Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe.  Depression can be characterised by:

  • Persistent feelings of low mood, sadness and tearfulness

  • A loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

  • Changes in appetite and weight

  • Fatigue and loss of motivation

  • Emotional disconnection or numbness

  • Feelings of low self-worth and/or guilt

  • Concentration difficulties

  • Recurrent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

  • Insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)


Factors for developing depression

Whilst we don’t know exactly what causes depression, there are a number of factors believed to be linked to its development, including:

  • Abuse – a past history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse can increase vulnerability to depression

  • Use of drugs, alcohol or certain medications can increase the risk of depression

  • Relationship conflicts or bullying

  • Genetics – a family history or predisposition may increase the risk of depression

  • Biochemical factors/brain chemistry

  • Major life events – loss of a relationship, job or other life change can contribute to the development of depression

  • Serious illness – depression can co-exist or be triggered by a medical condition

  • Social isolation

Have I got depression?

If you have experienced a combination of the symptoms described above for two weeks or more and it is impacting your ability to function in everyday life, it is important to make an appointment to see your GP.   Depression is usually treatable and recognising the early signs and seeking support can make a big difference.


Treatments for depression

Given that depression can be complex due to the differing causes, symptoms and severity, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-approach to treatment.  Treatments for depression may include approaches such as engagement in physical activity and mindfulness, psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, medications and sometimes electroconvulsive therapy can be effective.

Feeling suicidal?

If you are feeling suicidal, it is important to seek support. 


You can speak to:

  • someone you trust

  • your GP

  • Lifeline Counsellors on 13 11 14 (24hrs / 7 days)

  • MHERL on 1300 555 788 (24hrs / 7 days)

  • Hospital Emergency Department staff

  • Emergency services by calling 000

Counselling for Depression


-Karen Salansohn -

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