If you’ve been feeling down lately – or someone close to you hasn’t seemed like their usual self – its important to know there are options available.
Depression is a very common condition. In fact, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People experience poorer social and emotional wellbeing outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. For instance, among Indigenous adults high or very high levels of psychological distress are nearly 3 times the rate of non-Indigenous adults. Rates of intentional self harm among young Indigenous people aged 15–24 years are 5.2 times the rate of non-Indigenous young people (http://www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap).
These statistics may seem scary, but it’s important to remember that help is readily available and that it is possible to seek help for depression and anxiety and start feeling better with the right support.
What are the symptoms of depression?
- A sad or irritable mood that doesn’t go away
- A loss of interest in the things that previously made you happy
- A lack of energy and a general sense or tiredness or flatness
- Feeling worthless, guilty or like a burden to your friends and family
- Changes in appetite – either eating a lot more than before, or a lot less
- Changes in sleep patterns – either sleeping a lot more than before, or a lot less
- Difficulty concentrating, engaging or making decisions
- Thinking about death, suicide or that your family and friends would be better off without you
Depression is a serious enough condition in and of itself, but it can also make it easier to form addictions to drugs or alcohol, as a way of escaping feelings.
If you believe that you or someone else may be experiencing depression, you can complete this Beyond The Blue checklist which will provide you with a better understanding of how you’re feeling.
When should you get help?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s important to seek help quickly, instead of ignoring your symptoms and hoping they’ll pass. In most cases, individual episodes of depression are temporary and pass in time, but if you have been diagnosed with depression you may require the right medical support to get back to your normal self.
It’s important to remember how common depression is and that many people around you probably know exactly what you’re going through.
Remember that with the right treatment and a care plan from a medical professional, depression can be managed.
I think someone else is depressed. What can I do?
It’s important to remember that they can’t help the way they feel, so blaming a person who’s depressed or asking them to ‘snap out of it’ will not help them. It’s also important not to get frustrated if the person is struggling with basic life tasks that they used to handle easily.
Behaviours to watch out for include:
- Not going out anymore
- Not getting things done at work/school
- Withdrawing from close family and friends
- Relying on alcohol or sedatives
- Not doing usual enjoyable activities
- Unable to concentrate
If you think a friend or family member is depressed, the first thing to do is talk to them. Choose a time they’re not busy and ensure you bring it up gently. Talking about depression usually makes things better, not worse and may help the person to open up and talk about how they’re feeling.
You can start with asking them about their mood and how long they’ve been feeling that way. Remind them their feelings are very common and that help is available. If they don’t want to open up to you about how they feel, suggest that they speak with someone else – Like one of our friendly counsellors.
How can a GP help?
A GP should be your first stop if you believe you feel like you may be experiencing any or all of the symptoms of depression. When making your appointment it is important that you let reception know that you would like a long appointment to ask for a mental health care plan. Make sure you are open and honest with the GP about your feelings. The GP will ask you to fill out some questions to get an idea of how stressed, anxious and/or depressed you are and from there you can receive a mental health care plan, which entitles you to 6 visits with a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist. You can pick your own psychologist if you have done your research and found one you like already, or, the GP can recommend one of our psychologists here. It is important if you are thinking you will start taking medication to help with your feelings, that you speak to our pharmacist if you are also taking other medications.
Whether you have depression, or you suspect someone you know does, it’s important to remember that help is readily accessible because of how common depression is within the Australian community.
When you have depression, remember you aren’t alone – there are many people out there who understand what you are going through and would like to support you with your recovery.
To talk more about how you may be feeling and what the best course of action is to start feeling better, contact CRAICCHS today 1800 698 600.