Affecting approximately 1 million Australians each year, depression is one of the most frequently reported disorders nation-wide (Beyond Blue, 2015). Despite this, the symptoms of depression are commonly misunderstood. The Australian Psychological Society (2015) defines depression as a cognitive, emotional and physical state that is both chronic and intense. This booklet hopes enhance your understanding of depression through both building on this definition and discussing the various treatment options available for depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is characterised by either a chronic and persistent depressed mood or a loss of interest in almost all activities (or both). Other symptoms of depression include significant changes in weight or appetite, insomnia or excessive sleeping, fatigue or a decrease in energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished concentration and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide (DSM-V, 2013).
Not to be confused with general sadness, grief or moodiness, depression is neither a functional nor healthy emotional response to a particular stimulus. Rather, depression is a chronic and persistent illness that significantly impairs the sufferer’s ability to live their life (Australian Psychological Society, 2015).
It is important to understand that depression presents differently between sufferers; there is no one way to experience depression and depression does not have one particular cause. Whatever your feeling is completely normal and, most importantly, it can be treated. Depression is not permanent and chances for recovery are excellent (Australian Psychological Society, 2015).
Self-help Strategies for Depression
The following are a list of self-help strategies that may assist you in taking control of depression at home (Australian Psychological Society, 2015):
Psychological Treatment Methods
Several psychological methods of treating depression exist, with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) being among the most successful. CBT entails the identification and treatment of any thought and behavioural patterns making an individual more susceptible to depression. It involves teaching the individual to rationally process problems and shift their pattern of thinking towards a problem-solving approach (Beyond Blue, 2015). IPT, on the other hand, is most effective when troublesome interpersonal relationships are either causing or maintaining a patient’s depressive symptoms. Like CBT, it focuses on identifying negative patterns and teaching individuals to utilise a positive approach when working through problems (Beyond Blue, 2015).
The most important thing to remember is that several people will experience depression at some point during their lifetime.
If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of depression please see your GP or talk to a Psychologist.