Saturday, June 22, 2013

Living with Depression: Talk About It. Take Control

According the World Health Organisation, approximately 20 per cent of Australians adults are affected by depression throughout their lifetime. This number is alarming.

Life crashes occasionally; pieces and whole parts of our personality fly out in all directions, paralysing our ability to engage beyond the surface. Waking up is near impossible, as we disappear into a series of charades, masks and practiced faces – depression sufferers turn their lives a labyrinth of obstacles and barriers. Sadness is often confused with depression. Both can be caused by momentous or trigger events, prompting natural feelings of regret, critical self-reflection and powerlessness; the same feelings experienced after a relationship breakdown, work conflict, job redundancy, death or external stresses.

While sadness and depression share common emotional and mental cousins, depression isn't conclusively caused by breaking point events; instead, research documents an ambiguity – there is no defined reason to account for the development of depression, a variety of factors are ever present and influential.

Depression is a broad umbrella term for a wide range of sub-types and mental health issues. As no two people will ever respond exactly the same to an event or series of memories, depression is can generally include:
  • Low or irritable moods
  • Loss of enjoyment in life, company and activities
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things or people
  • Poor work performance
  • A consistent lack of energy, enthusiasm or motivation
  • Restlessness, changes in eat and sleeping patterns
  • Feeling of irrational guilt or general worthlessness
  • Thinking of death and suicide
Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list. Depression can manifest in aggressive acts, quiet rages, unexpected or erratic behaviour, addiction and more.

Types of Depression

Major Depression: Sounds serious, doesn't it? This debilitating illness is probably the most publicly recognisable. Episode dependent, sufferers need to exhibit symptoms for two weeks before diagnosis can be substantiated. When someone experiences multiple episodes, they are described as having major depression.

Dysthymia: Major Depression is the Big Daddy of the block and Dysthymia is the "milder", though enduring depressive state that can last from weeks, to months and finally, years. People with dysthymia may still perform daily rituals and roles, but with less interest, confidence and enjoyment.

Extreme Depression: Extreme of Psychotic symptoms are profound despair, guild and self-loathing, often communicating false belief about the self, events or others.

Bipolar: Over the last ten years, bipolar has entered public conversation, as more famous representatives and interest figures explore their experience with this debilitating disorder. Sufferers run the gamut of depression, mania and excessive behaviours (gambling, drugs, alcohol and sex etc), creating a continuous emotional and psychological rollercoaster.

Postnatal Depression: As women are already twice as susceptible to depression, postnatal depression affects women at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. 16 percent of women experience postnatal depression following the birth of their baby, causing binary feelings of detachment, guilt, hopelessness and anger.

What You Can Do To Take Your Life Back
There is no band-aid solution for depression or other mental/emotional health issues. Taking the first step toward positive treatment will empower you to contact further mental health services and engage with psychological and medicated therapy. Feeling better, even just for a moment can signify a step toward lasting improvement, Make sure to talk about your problems, be open with your feelings and seek the help therapy and community support can provide without judgement.

At home, swapping up unhealthy food option can up your mood and motivate you to go for a short walk. Try down the street, around the block, every short venture is another success to add to your diary of improvement. Try to avoid alcohol, drugs and negative people. This is about YOU. There will be days where you won't want to leave the house; you might even disconnect the phone. Overcoming depression can be a long process. You can do it.

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