Overcoming the obstacle - Karen's Column
Depression: Overcoming the Obstacle
Did you know that every year in Australia, one million adults and 100 000 young people are treated for depression? Depression is Australia’s most common ‘mood disorder’ and the actual number of people who suffer from depression is estimated to be much higher than our statistics reveal. At least one in five people are dealing with depression. That is, one in five people that we are friends with, go to school or work with, and go to pony club with! I hope this column will give you a better understanding of depression, because at some stage it will probably affect someone you love.
What is depression and why do people get it?
There are lots of different ways of explaining depression, but the best description I have heard is that depression is a form of emotional fatigue. We all know how physically exhausted we can become after a taxing couple of weeks. Well did you know our mind and emotions become fatigued too?
If we look at the common causes of depression, it is no wonder our mind and emotions get worn out. Things like ongoing stress, grief or loss, chronic illness, and isolation/ remoteness are listed amongst the main factors which contribute to depression.
The government website www.beyondblue.org.au puts it this way, “Although everyone has feelings of being sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods and often without reason.” These ongoing feelings can be an indicator that you are not just tired or down, but could possibly be experiencing depression.
How do I know if I have depression?
People who suffer from depression often feel flat – like they are not enjoying life anymore. They may have difficulty falling or staying asleep, and often feel like withdrawing from friends and keeping away from people. Irritability, fatigue, moodiness and negative thoughts are common symptoms too. Negative thoughts can become very strong in some people and they might lose sight of the fact that this is an illness which passes and can be effectively treated. (If you or someone you know experiences strong negative thoughts and you fear for your /their safety, you might like to read Life Saving Advice.)
You are not alone!
We all hope that sickness will not happen to us, however many of us will go through an episode of depression during our lifetime. If this is happening to you please realise you are not alone. One in three females and one in six males know firsthand what you are going through… that is how common this problem is. The good news is that there is treatment available for emotional fatigue/depression. This is something you should talk over with your doctor. Feeling sad, flat, disinterested and irritable is no way to go through life, especially if you don’t have to. Help is available and depression usually gets worse, not better if left untreated.*
Help is available.
There are many helpful websites and free call centers that will help you. The team at Pony Club have set up the following links for you, but if you think you may have depression, please see you doctor.
www.ybblue.com.au (this is a good youth site)
www.headspace.org.au (another good youth site)
Kids Help Line 1300 55 1800
Lifeline 13 11 14
Mensline 1300 789 978
Suicide Helpline 1300 651 251
Parent Helpline 1300 659 467
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (Free telephone counselling sessions for those caring for someone suicidal, or bereaved by suicide.)
On a personal note, many of my close friends and family have gone through tough times with depression. I also went through a time of post-natal depression which went undiagnosed, so I got through it the slow way. There is no stigma or embarrassment for those who experience depression. Speak up, get help and let people love and support you! You could also try taking a piece of advice from my coffee mug, “Before you go to bed, give God your problems…He’s going to be up all night anyway! J
Wishing you hope that overcomes all life’s obstacles,
Karen welcomes you questions and comments. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen’s previous columns are available in the publications section of this website.
* Beyond blue.org.au