Depression is the one of the most common mental health conditions in Australia. It is estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, and in any one year, around one million Australian adults have depression, and two million have anxiety.
Whilst depression and anxiety are separate illnesses, it is very common for them to occur at the same time with more than half of those diagnosed with also experiencing anxiety symptoms; therefore both conditions can go hand-in-hand.
Depression is an illness which can have a significant effect on the way a person feels physically and mentally. Overall, depression can interfere with the way a person is able to function in their day-to-day lives, making life more difficult to manage and/or cope with.
Depression has a variety of symptoms which can affect people in different ways, however some may not experience all of the below symptoms:
Depression can have a number of possible causes, with some people more prone to having a genetic predisposition to its symptoms, followed by a trigger derived from stressful events. Depression can also:
There are various health professionals and mental health support services available to help with the treatment and support of depression along with various tools and techniques to allow patients to learn how to manage their condition.
Treatment is extremely effective in reducing and even eliminating the symptoms of depression, and can include a combination of medication, support, and psychological therapy.
Symptoms of depression which are moderate to severe generally require psychological and/or medical treatments. Psychological treatments are the most effective in treating depression as they can help change thinking patterns and improve coping skills in order to help deal with any stress or conflict in day-to-day life. Psychological therapy can also help maintain your mental health by recognising and making changes to any negative thoughts and behaviour.
There are various types of treatments which help patients learn new skills to manage their symptoms including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Psychological therapies are undertaken face-to-face with a trained professional, and there are also many growing online resources providing online course modules via the internet.
There are various types of anti-depressant medication tailored to help patients manage both anxiety and depression, as both conditions generally occur together. As depression can be either short or long term, anti-depressants are considered to be an ideal treatment for both short and long periods of time.
Medical research shows that there are specific changes that occur in the brains organic chemical balance; serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. These are compounds which act as a neurotransmitter. Anti-depressants correct the chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters (or simply known as neurons) in the brain which are probable to cause changes in our mood and behavior.
The prescription of anti-depressant medication should be made in consultation with your doctor, and are generally not recommended for patients under the age of 18 years old.
Your General Practitioner (GP) will be your best first point of contact in order to gain an official diagnosis. This will help assess which treatment plan will be suitable for you. This may include;
Your Mental Health Treatment Plan will also be arranged in order to receive a Medicare rebate for any necessary treatment with your new psychologist.
Psychologists are trained and qualified mental health professionals who provide psychological therapies such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) at both an emotional and psychological level. Sessions can be conducted with either an individual or a group, and can provide various methods on how to manage existing symptoms.
Psychiatrists are doctors who are also extensively trained in mental health in order to make both medical and psychiatric diagnoses. Psychiatrists will generally administer medication deemed suitable to treat a patients condition, in a private practice and/or psychiatric hospitals
Counsellors are trained to give guidance on personal problems. Common personal problems include difficulties with relationships and life circumstances, grief, anxiety and depression.Statistical Data Reference: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007/2008).