What is Depression?
Depression is a word that is used in everyday language to describe sadness, frustration, and disappointment. These symptoms are experienced by everyone at some time in their life, however, this is different from the clinical condition also known as depression. This condition is more intense, pervasive and long-lasting and interferes with day-to-day functioning.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 people experience significantly depressed mood at some time in their life. Any kind of person can be affected by depression – introvert/extrovert, young/old, male/female. So this means that anyone can experience depression and that you are not alone.
The key symptoms that last for at least two weeks include one or both of:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness or lowered mood that lasts for most of the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable, like going out, seeing friends, or pursuing interests and hobbies
Other symptoms can include
- Significant changes in appetite and/or weight in the absence of dieting
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness or hopelessness, or excessive guilt
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Decreased interest in sex
- Thoughts of suicide or a feeling that life is not worth living
For some people, stressful life events might trigger depression. For others, there is no obvious cause. However, depression is never caused by only one thing – it is thought that a combination of factors must interact for a person to experience depression. These include biological factors (such as genetics, hormones, and brain chemicals) and psychological factors (such as thinking patterns and stress).
- Making lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, having low or no intake of alcohol and caffeine, engaging in enjoyable activities, improving time-management skills, and having adequate sleep
- Understanding how you experience depression personally
- Actively challenging the symptoms of depression to improve coping strategies
- Using support networks – friends, family, treating doctor, or community service
- Mindfulness techniques that help redirect your attention to the present moment, rather than focusing on the past
If low mood persists for over two weeks and is affecting your studies and personal life, psychological assistance should be considered. Student Life and Learning offers free counselling sessions to USC students which can be booked at our reception desk or by calling +61 7 5430 1226. Alternatively, your GP can provide you with a referral to a private psychologist in the community and for more information on this process, visit Australian Government, Department of Health, Better access to mental health care: fact sheet for patients.
- beyondblue — Telephone: 1300 224 636
- headspace — Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing assistance for individuals aged 12-25
- Lifeline — A 24-hour counselling, suicide prevention and mental health support service. Telephone: 131 114
- sane — Provides information on depression and other disorders. Telephone: 1800 187 263
- Reach Out — Online youth mental health service that provides factsheets, tools, apps, community forums, stories, videos etc.
Australian Psychological Society. (2013). Depression overview. Retrieved from http://eqip.psychology.org.au
Centre for Clinical Interventions. (2008). Depression resources. Retrieved from http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/consumers.cfm
Healthline. (2014). The best depression iPhone & android apps of the year. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-depression-iphone-android-apps