Mental health problems are challenging and complicated, and it's important to get support when faced with them. Here are some interesting facts about depression, along with some myths about this condition you should be aware of.
This can help if:
- you want to know more about depression
- you’re living with depression
- you feel like no one understands what you’re going through, and it’s hard to talk to the people you care about.
Fact 1: Depression is common, but treatment can help
If you are experiencing depression, you aren’t alone:
- In their lifetimes, about one in five Australians will experience depression.
- Around the world, depression affects around 300 million people.
- Depression is the most commonly experienced mental health challenge for young people aged between 12-25 years old.
Talking about how you feel with a trusted friend or family member is an important step. In addition, mental health professionals can offer treatments and strategies that are an important part of the recovery journey.
Fact 2: Depression isn’t the same as being ‘lazy’ or ‘weak’
Experiencing depression can mean that people struggle to get out of bed, get to school or work, or take part in activities that they used to enjoy.
From the outside, this can look like they’re not trying hard enough. The way that others respond to a person with depression is important, and the misconception that they are lazy or weak can make it more difficult for them to seek help and recover.
Depression can affect all kinds of people, even those who are traditionally considered to be ‘strong’ or who seem like they have no obvious reason to be depressed.
Fact 3: Depression has many causes, and can affect anyone
Psychologists have found many different factors that can cause depression:
- Recent events in people’s lives: breakups, loss, unemployment, life transitions, conflict with family and friends.
- Longstanding life issues: trauma, loneliness, addiction.
- Physical causes: genetic factors, medications, differences in your brain chemistry, nutrition, hormones, immune system and gut health.
It’s helpful to know about all the causes of depression because there could be lots of different things impacting your condition, and some of those could be things you aren’t even aware of.
People of all races, sexes and classes can be affected by depression, and all can struggle in dealing with the stigma surrounding it.
Fact 4: Depression often exists alongside anxiety
Depression and anxiety are distinct experiences with separate causes and solutions, but it’s common for people to experience both at once, or for one to cause another.
- Anxiety is experienced regularly by almost 50% of people who have depression.
- The problems experienced by people with anxiety, like finding it hard to connect to others or engage in life without worrying, can lead to depression.
- It can be an enormous challenge living with anxiety. However, it is also relatively common, so people who experience it might not realise it’s something that affects their everyday life.
Fact 5: There are different types of depression
For psychologists, ‘depression’ is actually a ‘blanket term’ referring to a few different experiences that people face. Here are some common types:
- Major Depressive Disorder: this is the most common type of depression people face. It refers to when depressive symptoms last for more than two weeks.
- Chronic Depression or Persistent Depressive Disorder: This form of depression lasts longer and is diagnosed when someone’s been experiencing symptoms most days for at least two years.
- Bipolar Disorder: People who experience this condition experience moods that can shift significantly. They can experience periods of depression for weeks, followed by periods of mania (an extremely elevated mood). To learn more about bipolar disorder, click here.
- Seasonal Depression: this form of depression is where feelings of sadness and tiredness can occur in yearly cycles depending on the weather patterns around them. Usually it will affect people during winter months, and lift during spring and summer. It’s more common in cold climates which experience less daylight during winter months.
Fact 6: No one chooses to have depression
People don't choose to be depressed, in the same way that people don't choose to have cancer. So, telling a person with depression to cheer up or to ‘snap out of it’ can be harmful and can leave them feeling more isolated. Depression is associated with complex social, biological and cultural factors that can’t be wished away.
Fact 7: Getting help can be really hard
For many people, depression can bring feelings of shame or hopelessness, and a sense of being broken or unworthy. This can make it a huge struggle to ask for support, or to get help to make things better. Understanding that these feelings are a part of depression and can shift with treatment can sometimes help to get enough motivation to take action. If you’re thinking of seeing a GP, here’s what you need to know.
If you're not ready to see a GP or want to talk to someone to suss it out, you could chat with a peer worker using ReachOut PeerChat. Our peer workers have had experience with mental health challenges as young people. They are on their own journey to recovery and use their experience to support others. All peer workers have undergone ReachOut training and have expertise in facilitating safe, respectful, non-judgmental conversations. Book a free, text-based session with PeerChat here.
Fact 8: There are many options for treating depression
Depending on the severity and cause of the depression, different treatment methods are available, which are evidence-based and provided by mental health professionals. However, recovery takes time and may involve lots of ups and downs.
Many people who have recovered from depression describe a number of changes that have helped them, from physical exercise (such as walking), to making art or playing music, to using psychological therapies. In some cases, a doctor might prescribe medication to help manage severe symptoms.
It's important that you feel comfortable with the mental health professional you choose to work with. Some people need to meet a few people before they find the one who is the right fit for them.
While getting support can be daunting, it can really help you to manage depression. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can start feeling more like yourself again.