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BY Debra W and Leanne Corbett

Depression is a state of low mood which can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, worry, helplessness, worthlessness and guilt.

Depression can be caused by a lot of things and a few examples are:

  • Long term unemployment, abusive relationships, stress
  • Family History – You can be at an increased genetic risk if a close parent has had the illness
  • Personality – You may have low self esteem, be super sensitive or have a negative outlook on things
  • Medical illness – Long term illness and/or chronic pain can be a cause
  • Drugs and Alcohol – Drug and/or alcohol abuse can lead to depression
  • If you or somebody you care about is feeling sad or miserable for more than a few weeks or has lost interest in what’s going on around them they may be depressed.

Other symptoms could include:

  • Withdrawing from close friends and family
  • Not wanting to go out
  • Lacking in confidence
  • Irritable or sad
  • Loss or change of appetite
  • Tired and run down
  • Trouble sleeping or trouble getting out of bed
  • Headaches and muscle pain
  • Weight loss

Some famous people who have been affected by depression are Jim Carey, JK Rowling, Buzz Aldrin, Billy Joel, Owen Wilson, Brooke Shields, Carrie Fisher, Mel Gibson, Frank Sinatra, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Catherine Zeta Jones.

Medical treatment for depression

The mainstream medical treatment is antidepressant medication. There is no simple explanation as to how it works but it can be very useful in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. People suffering bipolar or psychosis generally do not get better on their own. They need to be treated with medication, mood stabilisers or anti-psychotic drugs.

Which anti-depressants should be used?

There are many antidepressants. Your doctor will assess your illness and will decide with you which medication is best suited for you. Things to consider include what sort of depression you have, your medical history, your age or if you might be pregnant or breastfeeding. The effects of antidepressants can take at least 2 weeks before they start having any effect.

Side effects

Like taking any medication, there can be side effects. Common side effects for anti-depression medication include nausea, headaches, anxiety, sweating, dizziness, weight gain, dry mouth and loss of libido. These symptoms usually only surface for a short time however some people will only be on medication for a short time depending on the severity of their illness and how they respond to treatment.


Family and friends are an important role in a persons recovery as they can offer support and understanding. People with depression and anxiety don’t generally feel like socialising.


A number of studies have found that exercise is a good way to help or prevent depression. Research shows that keeping active can help lift your mood, improve sleep, energy levels, block negative thoughts and increase your well being.

Depression and anxiety can go on for months or years if left unattended and can have many negative effects on a persons life. It is important to seek help early, the sooner the treatment starts the sooner the recovery starts.

Where to go for help

General practitioners



Mental Health Nurse Practitioners


Life Line

Beyond Blue


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