The Mental Health Minute – Dealing with Depression
During the winter months, when the weather is gloomy and the days are shorter, existing mental health conditions can worsen.
While it’s normal to feel sad at times, chronic and persistent sadness for more than two weeks could be a sign of depression.
Depression is characterised by prolonged sadness and a loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that were once pleasurable. Common symptoms include lack of energy, sleep disturbances, irritability, difficulty concentrating and feeling overwhelmed, empty, or numb.
Depression not only affects our mood, but also distorts our perception of ourselves and our future. It may seem like nothing is worthwhile and that things will never improve.
Various factors can contribute to depression, including genetics, psychological stressors like loss, neglect, abuse, or bullying, social conflicts, financial worries, social isolation, major life changes, physical health issues, injuries, substance abuse, and sleep problems.
Fortunately, there are effective evidence-based treatments for depression. The most suitable approach, whether therapy, medication, or a combination of both, depends on the individual and their circumstances. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the best course of action.
For mild depression, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and avoiding alcohol may be sufficient. However, moderate to severe depression often requires psychological or medical treatments, or a combination. Your GP is an excellent starting point. They can provide a mental health plan that allows for subsidised visits to Psychologists through Medicare.
In some cases, people may also experience suicidal thoughts which can further impact their mental health. It’s crucial to reach out to helplines like Lifeline, Beyond Blue, and others for support during these moments.
These helplines can talk to you about your thoughts and help you till the thoughts pass. If you begin taking antidepressant medication, be aware that it may take a few weeks to take effect, and the risk of suicidal thoughts can increase during this time, especially in young people. Regular monitoring by your doctor is essential. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call emergency services at 000 right away.
Depression may make you feel trapped in your emotions, but even small actions like talking to someone or going for a walk can help clear your mind. Creating a plan to address the problem can provide immense relief for some individuals. Simply making an appointment can make a significant difference.
Remember, you are not alone—there are services available to support you. All you need to do is take that first step.
Lifeline – lifeline.org.au 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute – blackdoginstitute.org.au