What is Depression?

Despite many years of research, researchers remain unsure of what exactly causes depression.

What we do know is that it generally results from a combination of things and can be a debilitating condition. Some of the issues that can lead to depression include15:

  • Life Events – Issues such as long-term or prolonged abuse, bullying, harassment, isolation, loneliness, relationship difficulties and work stress1.
  • Personal factors – Issues such as family history, low-self esteem, excessive worrying, perfectionism, sensitivity to criticism, and having a negative outlook1.
  • Serious Medical Issues – Particularly relating to long-term management of a medical condition such as cancer or chronic pain1.
  • Drug and Alcohol Use – excessive or long-term alcohol and other drug use and abuse can lead to depression and it is common that people who are depressed turn to alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to cope with depression1.
  • Trauma – Following a traumatic event, it is quite normal for people to feel grief, sadness and distress. For many people, grief, sadness, and distress subside over time, whilst others can develop psychological conditions such as depression or PTSD. Often, PTSD and depression are experienced along side one another16.

Whilst we all experience feeling down or sad at various times in our lives, a person would generally need to experience many of the symptoms of depression outlined below for a period of two weeks or more to meet a diagnosis of depression:

  • A loss of interest and/or pleasure in activities you would normally be interested in2.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family2.
  • Low mood, sadness, feeling miserable, agitation, and irritability12.
  • Feeling teary2.
  • Changes in sleep patterns (ie, more or less sleep than usual), fatigue and feeling tired most of the time12.
  • A significant change in appetite or weight2.
  • A sense of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness such as feeling like a failure or that nothing good ever happens to you12.
  • Difficulties with concentration and indecisiveness12.
  • Thoughts of suicide, that life isn’t worth living, or a sense that people would be better of without you around12.
  • Loss of motivation and confidence12.
  • An increase in alcohol or other drug use1.
  • Unexplained aches and pains

If you or someone you know has been experiencing symptoms of depression for a period of two weeks or more, discuss how you are feeling, or encourage your mate to discuss how they are feeling, with your/ their GP, mental health professional or any of the organisations listed on the Where Can I Get Help page.

1 Beyond Blue. (2016, September 20). What causes depression. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/what-causes-depression

2 Phoenix Australia. (2016, September 18). Recovery: Helping Others. Retrieved from http://phoenixaustralia.org/recovery/helping-others/ 



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