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Depression / Mood Disorders

What is depression?

Depression is more than just a low mood - it\'s a serious illness. While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time and often without reason. People with depression find it hard to function every day and may be reluctant to participate in activities they once enjoyed.

If you notice any behavioural changes that last for more than two weeks in family members or friends, then it is worth asking if the person may be depressed. Common behaviour associated with depression includes:

  • Moodiness that is out of character
  • Increased irritability and frustration
  • Finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms
  • Spending less time with friends and family
  • Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
  • Being awake throughout the night
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Staying home from work or school
  • Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
  • Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
  • Slowing down of thoughts and actions.

How common is depression?

Depression is one of the most common of all mental health problems. Around one million Australian adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year. On average, one in five people will experience depression in their lifetime - one in four females and one in six males.

What types of depression are there?

Different types of depression often have slightly different symptoms and may require different treatments. The five main types of depression are listed below.

Helping yourself

Services that specialise in depression include:

Techniques for managing stress may also be of benefit, which includes the following:

  • Learn and practise relaxation techniques
  • Understand how important physical activity is for good mental health
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Maintain social contact
  • Be physically active
  • Reduce alcohol and other drugs

Getting professional help

If you, or someone that you know, is in need of additional assistance, the best person to speak to is your GP. They may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The following services may also be of assistance: