Broadly speaking, there are two types of depression, and this distinction is important to make because the treatments are different.
Situational Depression (also known as adjustment disorder) is a response to a specific difficult or traumatic life event.
Major depression is generally longer term and may have no cause. This may lead to frustration or guilt for the depressed person or their loved ones who have trouble empathising with the depression when there is no obvious reason for it. Trying to rationalise the cause of the depression may lead to blaming people or situations that have nothing to do with it, for example a wife thinking, “He won’t tell me why he is depressed, therefore it must be my fault.” As someone who doesn’t suffer with major depression it can be very hard to accept the fact that there is no one and nothing to blame and that doing so can make the situation worse.
The following symptoms may be caused by depression. They do not have to be present all day, or every day, for the diagnosis to be made.
In extreme cases, major depression can cause psychosis. This means perceiving and believing things that are not physically there, or couldn’t feasibly be true (hallucinations and delusions). Please see the section on psychosis for more information.
Treatment options are out there, wherever in the world you are. Please do not suffer in silence, or feel like depression is “a normal part of life” or something you have to “put up with”. Depression is highly treatable and most people make a full recovery. There may be humps along the way – relapse is also very common – but keep at it and together we can beat the black dog.
Medication can be very effective. Side-effects are easy to manage, and there are lots of different options to find one which suits you. They are not addictive. If you think you would benefit from treatment, please discuss medication with your doctor.
Therapy – speak with your doctor or healthcare professional about the different psychological therapies available for depression.
There are a lot of places online which support you to use self-help strategies to manage depression symptoms. Check out beacon.anu.edu.au to compare different programs to find one that is right for you. Some suggestions are:
MoodGYM– an online cognitive behavioural therapy program from the Australian National University designed to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
If you need immediate assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression, contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or www.beyondblue.org.au or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.