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What is Depression?

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that affects the mind and body. It is more than just sadness or “the blues”; it can impact on nearly every aspect of a person’s life, including one’s physical body, mood, thought processes, behaviour, ability to relate to others and general lifestyle.

While most of us feel sad or miserable from time to time, people who suffer from depression experience these feelings more intensely, for longer periods of time, and often without reason. They may also experience feelings of self-criticism, hopelessness and despair.

Depression is often referred to as the common cold of emotional problems because it is such a common psychological difficulty. One in five people experience depression at some stage of their lives.

What are the symptoms?

People diagnosed with clinical depression have a combination of symptoms, including the following:
  • Feeling sad, down or miserable
  • Greatly reduced interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Change in sleep patterns, including insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Low self-esteem
  • Increase or decrease in appetite, weight loss or weight gain
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Indecisiveness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Who is at risk of developing depression?

Depression does not seem to be related to factors such as ethnicity, education, income and marital status. It affects slightly more women than men, although the reason for the sex difference is not entirely clear. Depression is more common among parents, children, and siblings of people diagnosed with depression. Other risk factors include having a chronic illness, abusing drugs and alcohol, and living in a rural or remote area.

What causes depression?
There is no single cause of depression. Most research shows that depression is "multidetermined", that is, a number of different factors can cause it.

Many physicians believe that depression results from an incorrect balance of chemicals in the brain. Although the balance may be right most of the time, the balance may change at other times and the person may become depressed.

Some personality characteristics have also been linked with depression. People who have a depressive personality style, where they have a very negative view of themselves or the world, have a greater risk of developing a depressive disorder. Other personality traits that have been associated with depression include perfectionism, hypersensitivity and shyness.

Depression may also be associated with stressful life events such as financial difficulties, retirement, unemployment, childbirth, loneliness, or the loss of someone or something important.

Where can I go for more information?

David Burns. (1999). Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Harper.

David D. Burns. (1999). The Feeling Good Handbook. Plume.

Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky. (1995). Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think. The Guilford Press.

Steven C. Hayes. (2005). Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications.

Claudia J. Strauss. (2004). Talking to Depression: Simple Ways To Connect When Someone In Your Life Is Depressed. NAL Trade.

Richard O'Connor. (1999). Undoing Depression. Berkley Trade.

Black Dog Institute
Website: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
Email: blackdog@unsw.edu.au

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
Website: www.ndmda.org
Email: myrtis@aol.com

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred)
Website: www.ifred.org
Email: info@ifred.org

All About Depression
Website: www.allaboutdepression.com

Beyond Blue
Ph: 1300 22 4636
Website: www.beyondblue.org.au

depressioNet
Website: www.depressionet.com.au



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