Forming Partnerships to Support Improved 'Whole Health'

Depression - The Facts

Is depression a mental illness?

Depression is a common illness that can have significant and debilitating impacts; it is far more than the experience of sadness. We all experience sadness from time to time in our lives as a natural emotional response to difficult and challenging times.

Generally, sadness passes as we adapt and adjust, for some however significant life stressors can influence the onset of depression. 

Is depression genetic?

Onset of depression is a complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors. We do know that people who have experienced adverse life events such as loss, trauma, child birth, some medical conditions, and significant life changes are more prone to the onset of depression. 

Key Facts

  • People of all ages can suffer from a depressive illness

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide (World Health Organisation, WHO)

  • More woman than men experience depression (WHO)

  • Depressive illness can be effectively treated

What Depression looks like: Types & Symptoms

There are different types of depressive illness, either unipolar (primary depressive symptoms) and bipolar where the experience of a cycle of depressive symptoms and manic episodes are present. The symptoms can range from mild, moderate to severe. Both types can be chronic (ongoing) with risk of relapse, especially if the illness is untreated.

What depression does  &  What depression is like

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or ‘empty’ mood

  • Experiencing hopelessness, and pessimism

  • Experiencing guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being ‘slowed down’

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions

  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping

  • Appetite and weight changes

  • Thoughts relating to death or suicide, suicide attempts

  • Restlessness and irritability

  • Persistent physical symptoms (aches and pains)

    Experiencing the symptoms of a depressive illness can further exacerbate the severity of the illness. Engaging in effective Psychological and Medical Treatment as early as possible can mitigate both severity and the functional impacts of a depressive illness.  

    In closing, depression can be a serious and life-threatening illness, stigma and beliefs like ‘one should just get over it’ or ‘it’s a weakness’ are significant barriers to getting the support required. We would not have the same treatment interfering attitude towards any physical injury or medical illness, our mental health matters.

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