Depression is a common mental health condition with a high burden of disease. Research suggests that 1 in 7 Australians will experience depression at some point in their life. Depression is a large contributor to death and disability worldwide; it is associated with high rates of lost productivity, economic loss and reduced quality of life.
Depression affects how we think, feel, and act, including how we relate to others. It can impact every aspect of life, including our functioning at work, in relationships and in other important areas in life. People experiencing depression can have a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Persistent low mood and pessimism
- Loss of interest and enjoyment in most activities
- Changes in sleep, appetite and weight
- Low energy levels and physical symptoms (e.g. headache, stomach upset)
- Irritability/agitation or a slowing down of thought and physical movement
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Poor concentration
- In severe cases, thoughts of death and psychotic symptoms
Depression can at times be a mild condition, however, it can also be severe and incredibly debilitating. Many people with depression withdraw from close family and friends, stop going out and cease engaging in the activities that used to give them pleasure and meaning in life. Some people may turn to harmful ways of coping, such as the use of drugs and alcohol or self-harm, which work to further lower mood and maintain the depression.
There is no simple test for depression. Rather, identifying depression usually involves a detailed assessment with a qualified health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. The clinician you choose to work with will ask a series of questions about your history, current difficulties, and the impact of these difficulties on various aspects of your life.
Our highly trained psychologists and psychiatrists work with clients to identify, understand and treat their depression. The aim of treatment for depression is to reduce the person’s symptoms, support them to return to their normal level of functioning, and ultimately, improve their quality of life. The good news is that effective interventions exist to treat depression. The sooner a person with depression accesses support, the sooner their road to recovery begins.