Everyone experiences sadness at times. However, depression is something more than this. More specifically, depression can be thought of as extreme sadness or despair that lasts more than a few days. It can interfere with the activities of daily life and can even cause physical pain. Fortunately, depression is highly treatable.
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, and is one of the most common mental health issues within Australia.
Depression affects different people in different ways, but some of the more common symptoms include the following:
- Prolonged sadness or feelings of emptiness.
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
- Anger and irritability.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Appetite changes.
- Chronic pain, headaches or stomachaches.
- Loss of interest in activities.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Depression is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. For example, people who have a family history of depression/mental health difficulties are considered to be at an increased risk of experiencing a depressive episode. Additionally major life changes, chronic illness, trauma and stress can also bring about an episode of depression, although some episodes of depression begin without any obvious external cause.
Depression shouldn’t be considered to be a sign of weakness, and is not something that you can just “snap out of.” Rather, it is an illness that requires professional treatment. Yet with the right care, people can feel better. This includes engagement in psychological interventions, and for some people, the use of anti-depressant medications. Clinical Psychologists are highly trained mental health professionals with experience in helping patients recover from depression. There are several different approaches to treating depression via psychological therapy, and there is no one “right” approach. Clinical Psychologists closely with individuals to create tailored treatment plans to address their unique needs and concerns. Psychological interventions can also help patients learn ways to better cope with stress and manage their symptoms. These strategies can lead to recovery and enable patients to function at their best.