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About depression

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If you have depression – you are not alone.

One in ten Australians are experiencing depression or feelings of depression      (ABS, Mental Health 2017-2018)

Depression is treatable. The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can get on the path to recovery.

 

WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?

No single cause for depression has been identified. Instead, depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors, such as:

  • Stressful life events
  • Family history (genetics)
  • Hormonal changes (e.g. childbirth, perimenopause)
  • Substance misuse 
  • Living circumstances (e.g. isolation)
  • Illness (e.g. cardiovascular disease can lead to depression and vice versa)

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT'S DEPRESSION?

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you've felt sad, irritable, empty, or have lost interest or pleasure in activities for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, and have also experienced other symptoms affecting your feelings, thoughts, disrupted sleep, changes in appetite and weight, and/or physical wellbeing. (WHO, Fact Sheet: Depression)

A depressive episode can be categorised as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number and severity of symptoms, as well as the impact on the individual’s functioning. 

If you are experiencing symptoms affecting your mental and/or physical wellbeing, it is important that you speak to your GP or other healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will consider your medical history and will ask questions to identify the cause or causes of your experience and what’s needed to help you recover.

FIRST-STEP TREATMENTS

An important part of treating depression involves self-care and addressing routines and behaviours that can affect your mood, these include:

  • Sleep hygiene
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Substance misuse

Depending on the severity and pattern of depressive episodes, your healthcare provider may prescribe psychological treatments and/or medication.

Psychological treatment for depression 

Psychological treatments include behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. Different psychological treatment formats for consideration include individual and/or group face-to-face psychological treatments delivered by professionals and supervised lay therapists. 

Depression medication

Antidepressants are the main type of depression medication and are generally prescribed for moderate to severe depression. There are different types of antidepressants and they are generally similar in how effective they are at relieving depression, but differ in terms of side effects.

NEXT-STEP TREATMENTS

While many people will recover with first-step treatments - up to a third of people will need treatment beyond antidepressants. If you continue to have symptoms of depression despite treatment, you may need to take the next step in your recovery.

Next-step treatments include:

  • Magnetic neurostimulation
  • Next-step medications
  • Additional psychological support

ADDITIONAL TREATMENT OPTIONS

For some people, achieving recovery will require accessing additional treatment options such as combination therapies, electroconvulsive therapy, and/or participation in clinical trials to access emerging treatments.

Everyone is different, and will respond to different treatments in different ways - it is important to work with your healthcare provider to identify what is and is not working for you, so they can help develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs.

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