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Understanding Depression

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When I originally wrote this article in 2007 I separated it into five individual posts. Although I haven’t edited the text in any way (in reposting these original ’07 posts I wish to capture the thoughts I was feeling in that time) I have collated each of the posts into one, separated by each header.

What is Depression?

“Clinical depression is more than just the “blues,” being “down in the dumps,” or experiencing temporary feelings of sadness we all have from time to time in our lives. It is a serious condition that affects a person’s mind and body. It impacts all aspects of everyday life including eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and how a person thinks about himself/herself. People who are clinically depressed cannot simply will themselves to feel better or just “snap out of it.” If they do not receive appropriate treatment their symptoms can continue for weeks, months, or years.

“Clinical depression affects all aspects of a person’s life. It impairs our ability to sleep, eat, work, and get along with others. It damages our self-esteem, self-confidence, and our ability to accomplish everyday tasks. People who are depressed find daily tasks to be a significant struggle. They tire easily, yet cannot get a good night’s sleep. They have no motivation and lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Depression puts a dark, gloomy cloud over how we see ourselves, the world, and our future. This cloud cannot be willed away, nor can we ignore it and have it magically disappear.”

To read the rest of this article please go to All About Depression

What are the symptoms?

Depression can have a variety of symptoms, some of which are outlined below.

A person who is suffering from depression may not experience all of the following symptoms; some will have many, others few. The severity of the symptoms will also vary from person to person.

The Psychological Symptoms can include:
– Sadness, anxiety, or “empty” feelings
– Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
– Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
– Insomnia, oversleeping, or waking much earlier than usual
– Loss of weight or appetite, or overeating and weight gain
– Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
– Feelings of helplessness, guilt, and worthlessness
– Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
– Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
– Restlessness, irritability or excessive crying

The Physical Symptoms can include:
– Headaches
– Dizziness
– Muscular Pain
– Increased risk of stroke and other cerebovascular ailments
– Constipation/Dioreahh
– Tiredness: always tired, despite not being able to sleep
– Loss of appetite
– Loss of interest in sex: which can lead to impotence in men, and irregularity/cessation of periods in women.

If you feel that you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, or feel that you may be suffering from depression or a related mental illness, please speak to a GP or a mental health professional.

What treatment is available?

The two main forms of treatment for depression are

Both forms of treatment are usually required together in order to properly help the patient.

The website Psychology Information has detailed descriptions of both forms of treatment.

What can be done to help?

People who suffer from depression do not get better on their own.

Help should be sought from a GP or mental health professional with the assistance from family and friends.

The sooner treatment commences the easier it is to effectively overcome depression.

If you know someone who is depressed you can help by:
– Encouraging them to see a doctor or mental health professional
– – Offer support with this, such as offering to accompany them
– Discouraging them from treating their problem with alcohol or drugs
– Encouraging them to get involved in social activities, sporting groups etc

However, the following things are unhelpful:
– Telling them to just ‘keep busy’ or ‘get out more’
– Pressure them into partying (with drugs/alcohol) or forget about how they’re feeling
– Staying away or avoiding them
– Putting pressure on someone by telling them to ‘snap out of it’ or to ‘just cheer up’

When each of these four points happened to me, they really only made me feel worse. They increased my guilt and people suffering from depression feel guilty enough as it is.

From my own experience the best thing you can do to help someone with depression is to listen.
This simple act can go a very long way and can make someone suffering from depression feel cared about. This is often unfelt, however untrue, given the debilitating and lonely nature of the illness.

Above all else though it is important to take care of yourself – take time out and treat yourself from time to time. It is important to remember that it is not their fault.

Supporting someone with depression is demanding, tiring and emotionally draining.

Further Information

For further information on depression I recommend visiting

BeyondBlue, Depressoinet or SANE Australia.

There are also a variety of other websites and resources listed in the Mental Health Links on the left of this page.

Contact numbers which may be of use are:

Lifeline – 13 11 14
Suicide Helpline (Victoria) – 1300 651 251
Mensline – 1300 78 99 78
Emergency Services – 000

The Samaritans – 08457 90 90 90
Emergency Services – 999

Help is available not only for people suffering from depression, but also for the family, friends and carers of these people.

No-one should have to suffer alone.


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