One in five Australians will experience depression in their lifetime. This prevalence is quite high and makes depression a common condition. People experience depression in different ways. Someone might feel low or irritable for a number of weeks if they are worried about something specific that’s going on in their life. Someone else might feel extremely sad for many months or years, barely capable of doing anything, perhaps viewing their whole life as meaningless and pointless. There is a huge range in the severity of depression. It is perfectly normal to feel sad from time to time, and it is understandable to feel low if something very stressful has just occurred, such as losing a job or a relationship.


But there is a significant difference between feeling low for a few days and suffering from “clinical depression”, sometimes called “major depression”. Depression is a problem when the feelings of sadness are overwhelming or if you find it hard to enjoy things you used to find pleasant. It is particularly a problem if these feelings interfere with your daily activities.


Symptoms of Major Depression include:


  • Feeling sad most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of at least two weeks

  • Difficulty engaging in usual activities and difficulty enjoying activities

  • Tearfulness

  • Withdrawing from social activities

  • Significant loss (or increase) of appetite

  • Difficulty sleeping (or excessive sleeping)

  • Difficulties with concentration and memory, and difficulty making decisions

  • Feeling slowed down, tired, lacking energy or not very motivated to do things

  • Irritability

  • Feeling very guilty about things

  • Excessive worry or rumination

  • Feeling hopeless about the future

  • Feeling very low about oneself and one’s abilities.

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Reduced interest in sex

  • Frequent thoughts about death, perhaps even thinking about suicide


Is there treatment for depression?


There are two main types of treatment for depression; psychological therapy and medication. These two treatments are often used in conjunction with each other. The type of psychological therapy that has the most supporting evidence is called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Clinical Psychologists are most qualified to provide this treatment. In essence, CBT involves helping people to (1) develop ways to change unhelpful behaviour patterns (such as developing strategies for gradually increasing fulfilling activity and decreasing withdrawal and avoidance), (2) modify unhelpful and negative thinking patterns, and (3) work through current life problems. It is a relatively short term treatment approach which usually occurs over a few months. The length of time and the specific format of treatment will depend on your individual concerns, but the most important thing to note is that CBT has been proven to be effective.


The information on this website is designed for general interest only, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for seeking personalised, professional advice.​