“People often think that if someone suffers from anxiety or depression that they may be weak. In fact, they’re a lot stronger than people think.”
We all feel sad or down from time to time; it's a normal response to life events, and part of what makes us human. Depression is constant and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. These feelings can make you lose interest in the important things in your life. They can also make activities that you used to enjoy seem like too much effort. You may become irritable, and spend less time with friends and family.
By spending less time doing the things that bring purpose and fun to your life, your depression can lead to other problems. You may find yourself relying on alcohol or drugs to help manage your moods. This in turn can increase your depressive symptoms and make positive action seem more difficult.
There are different types of depressive disorders. While they all affect your physical and mental health, they differ by how long you remain affected, when they occur, and possible causes – which can vary greatly from person to person.
You can help tackle your symptoms by re-engaging with the meaningful things in your life. Finding out more about depression, and the actions you can take to manage it, is a positive step in your recovery.
Taking action for change
Exercise is an effective treatment
Activity scheduling is a helpful practice
Eating well can reduce depressive symptoms
Social support helps with recovery
Psychological treatments are effective
Helping someone with depression
A person with a depressive disorder will become increasingly inactive and socially withdrawn. One of the most useful things you can do is support them in rebuilding their engagement with the things that they enjoy and find satisfying. Help them to develop a realistic activity schedule, and encourage them to stick to it.
Rebuilding engagement is likely to be a gradual process, and will require your patience and understanding. Try not to blame them for their inactivity and understand that you may need to do more at this time to maintain the relationship.
It is important find out what you can about depression and its treatment from the websites recommended below, and be sure to look after yourself as well. Find out more about caring for someone with a mental health condition on the support for carers page.
A year after my father died, I still felt really bad and wasn't functioning well. Twelve months down the track, things should have been improving, but they still felt the same. I had a very strong sense that that was not normal, or that at least I should have been feeling a bit better. I had gone beyond mourning and I realised I needed help.
At uni I was falling apart and continually trying to hide it. I was able to do that for a while, but couldn’t keep up the pretence with my family and friends. You can only put up an act for so long. Eventually I just fell in a heap when the depression hit me like a train. That's when I first saw a psychiatrist.
Medication has meant I can explain things a bit better to the counsellors. So it's a combination of medication, growing up, and finally realising what I actually have and being able to articulate what I want.
Something that helped me a lot was talking to one of my dad’s friends who has suffered depression all his life. His symptoms were exactly the same as mine. He was the one who told me not to fight the depression, and just to ride it out.