Depression can often creep up on us. You might feel like you are weak for seeking help or convince yourself that you’ve got it all under control.
How do I identify depression?
Depression differs from everyday down periods of sadness, frustration and even lethargy as it is more intense, lasts longer (two weeks or more), and has significant impacts on day-to-day functioning.
Have you started to notice some changes in your mood, your behaviours, or your thought patterns over the last few weeks?
You might be experiencing feelings of emptiness, feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, lack of enjoyment in life, lack of motivation, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, abnormal sleep patterns or recurring thoughts of death.
Have these changes begun to interfere with
- Your work?
- Your school?
- Your social life?
- Your daily activities?
If this sounds a little too familiar, you are not alone. These symptoms are representative of what we call ‘depression’ or ‘major depression’ in clinical practice.
It is estimated that one out of four people have experienced a significantly depressed mood in their lifetime.
Recognise the triggers
There are multiple factors that can trigger someone to experience symptoms of major depression and these can look different for each individual. The following are some common triggers:
- Loss of a loved one, a job, friendship or relationship, or support
- Sense of failure when not achieving your goals
- Thinking patterns, such as overstressing the negative, taking responsibility for bad events, or thinking that people are thinking badly of you.
- Accumulation of stressful life events
- A big change
- Relationship problems
What do I do if I’m feeling depressed?
Occasional grief, sadness and low mood is normal, but if it persists, reaching out for help is important.
You can seek support from your local GP where they can offer you a Mental Health Care Plan to see a psychologist.
A psychologist can help you explore your symptoms in more depth, work collaboratively with you to develop a treatment plan to manage and alleviate your symptoms, and support you on your road to recovery.
Seeing a psychologist is now normal and, for many, a necessity, like going to see your dentist or your GP for a check-up.
You do not need to wait until you are in crisis to speak to a psychologist. In fact, it is encouraged that you should speak with someone the second you notice symptoms occurring.
It’s completely okay to feel nervous when seeking psychological support. They will be there to talk you through the process. You can do this!
What are some ways to help manage depression?
Seeking help and support is a good first step when it comes to managing your depression. Seeking help from a psychologist or talking to friends and family can help you feel listened to and less alone.
Other management strategies that may help include:
Getting some exercise in to your daily routine, even if it’s just some star jumps or taking a walk outside
Scheduling small activities that give you a sense of pleasure, joy and achievement
Getting some fresh air
Engaging in some relaxation strategies such as mindfulness or breathing. Smiling Mind or the Calm app are both great apps for this.
Having a good sleep schedule, so that your body can recharge
Remember that how you’re feeling is not going to last forever
If your situation begins to escalate or you are in crisis before you have had an opportunity to speak to your GP, please do not hesitate to call 000 or present yourself to the emergency department.
Written by: Shannon McQuade
Other support services available if you are in crisis include:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
The Samaritans on 13 52 47
Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
At Clear Health Psychology, we have registered, counselling and clinical psychologists passionate about helping people with mental health conditions such as, depression and anxiety. Read more here or get in touch below.