The Fight against Depression

By Joshua Cocks

Underlining Message: Depression is not a choice but an illness. A person doesn’t choose to be depressed, yet they can choose to receive treatment in order to return their mood to a better level. Obj: Try to make people aware of the illness depression, and the effective available treatment. What Is Depression? Clinical depression is a serious illness where depressed feelings set in and continue for a long time making it impossible to continue with life in a normal way. When suffering from clinical depression a person has less control over their mood and feelings, feeling depressed day after day, sometimes for many months. Depression can be distinguished from general unhappiness by the:
• • • • Severity Constancy Duration Lack of reactivity

The symptoms include:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • Over two weeks of abnormal depressed mood Loss of interest, enjoyment, energy Easily fatigued, diminished activity Marked tiredness on slight effort Reduced concentration and attention to task Reduced confidence and self-esteem Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, anxiety, unusual fear Pessimistic view of the future Thoughts or acts of self-harm or suicide Disturbed sleep, difficulty waking Diminished appetite and sexual desire Severe weight loss or gain Relationship problems

Depression goes beyond just feeling sad, it is a pervasive and relentless sense of despair that is sometimes so debilitating people struggle to function.

What Does Depression Do To People? When clinical depression is in full swing it causes a frame of mind that dulls all aspects of the person’s life. At its most severe, depression can be lifethreatening as one grinds to a halt; losing appetite and thirst; being so miserable that they may contemplate suicide; and neglect self care. It works its way into a person’s feelings, thoughts, behavior, and bodily functions. Someone suffering from depression will get many negative thoughts and a lowered self-esteem.
“I'm not good for anything.” “I'm hopeless.” “Nobody understands me.” “Life is unfair.” “I deserve to be punished.” “Death would be a relief.”

It will also cause negative behaviors:
• • • • • • No social interaction Eating too little (or too much) Alcohol abuse Substance abuse Aggressive outbursts Suicidal Attempts

Depression makes a person feel sad and unhappy deep down, losing interest in things that they normally enjoy. Depressive sufferers lose their capacity for happiness, even if something good happens. They tire easily and find it hard to think and make decisions. The symptoms caused have a negative impact upon a person’s life and their well-being. All these symptoms eventually will stop someone from taking care of themself and become dependent on social welfare or family support. Fuelled negative thoughts and unsociable behaviour breaks down relationships and creating further isolation. The giving and receiving of love and affection is one of the basic human needs. Once a person is cut off, it is very difficult for them to function properly. Depression chokes the life supply to a person, no matter how strong, successful or happy they are.

What Causes Depression?

Some of the common causes of depression are:

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Traumatic Experience/Grief Chemical Imbalance/Physical Problems Long Exposure to Abuse Substance Abuse/Lifestyle Postnatal Post viral Hormonal Changes or Disorders Personality Hereditary

Preventing the above events is impossible. However, people can learn what to do if one of the above events does cause depression. Just as many people know what to do when caught a common cold. Who Can Get Depressed? In the world today roughly 120 million people suffer from depression. Every year a million people commit suicide across the globe and 15 million people attempt suicide. Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide. Football “god” Andrew Johns has been diagnosed with clinical depression. Western Australia’s past premier, Geoff Gallop resigned due to clinical depression. Silverchair’s Daniel Johns recovered from severe post viral depression. Approximately one million Australian adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year. Each day 210 Australians attempt suicide and 7 Australians commit suicide. In Australia, depression is ranked as the fourth most common illness.

What Treatment Is There? It is best to see a therapist if you are suffering from a depressive illness. Your GP will probably recommend the below treatments. Remember depression is reliably diagnosed & treated. Medication If you're suffering from depression, there will be a reduced amount of the chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters in your brain. The most important neurotransmitters are:
• • • Serotonin Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine) Dopamine

When treating depression with antidepressants, the amount of these neurotransmitters in the brain is increased. This means that the medication helps return your mood to a normal level. Counselling If you're suffering from depression it’s a good idea to see a psychologist. They are highly trained in counseling, and able to identify and treat mental illnesses. Psychologists will help you to:
• • • • • • • • • • • Use safe and effective coping skills Build a strong alliance between you and them Thoroughly identify, evaluate and resolve problems Set realistic goals Rebuild your self-esteem Improve your communication skills Manage your feelings Understand and improve how you think Have support through traumatic experiences Modify any inappropriate behaviours that make your problems worse Handle things when feeling severely depressed or suicidal

Self-Help Receiving therapy is a vital step to beating depression; however it’s important not to stop there. Below are many things to do to help lift your mood and stabilize it. Each will help make your low times less and far between.
Start by trying to identify and focus on activities that make you feel better. It is important to do things for yourself. Don't isolate yourself. Take part in activities even when you may not want to. Such activity may actually make you feel better. Talk with your friends and family and consider joining a support group. Communicating and discussing your feelings is an integral part of your treatment and will help with your recovery. Internet communities are worth a look. Regular exercise and proper diet are essential to good health. Exercise has been found to increase the levels of the body's own natural antidepressants called endorphins. Try to get enough rest and maintain a regular sleeping pattern. Avoid drinking alcohol or using any illicit substances. These are depressants that lower serotonin levels in your brain. Self-help reading material is a great place to develop skills in managing depressive moods. Try to find books on ‘cognitive therapy’. Some good self help readings are: ’10 Days to Great Self-Esteem’ (Cognitive Therapy) ‘First Things First’ Management) Dr David Burns

Stephen Covey


‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ Stephen Covey Management) ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ Management) George S Clason



It may be good to do some research into ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’. It will help in discovering your own needs and how to meet them. Try some different complementary therapies: • • • • Meditation and Relaxation Massage, Reflexology, and Acupuncture Aromatherapy and Music Therapy Interactions with other people and animals

Naturopath Naturopaths work with the other therapies to improve your mood, well-being and energy levels. They are very affordable. Be sure to tell them of any medication you may be taking. Join the Fight! You are now equipped Medication to fight against depression and the destruction it Counselling entails! Social Group
Self Help Therapy Love & Affection Naturopath Healthy Lifestyle

Depression Debilitating Moods Low Serotonin Levels Self Defeating Thoughts Anti Social Behaviour Relationships Self Harm Not able to Function

Happiness Healthy Feelings Normal Serotonin Levels Productive Thoughts Constructive Behaviours in Self Care & Security A Balanced Success in all Areas

Where Should I Go To Get Treatment? If not URGENT go to your GP. Remember it is a common illness and your GP will be able to treat the depression. If your depression is past moderate or even severe you will probably recommended to a psychologist. At first you may fall off your chair at the price, however Medicare rebates reimburse roughly 75%. If the situation is urgent the best place to go is a private hospital. It should only be about $200 and gets the person safe until other (CHEAPER) remedies can be organised. What Do I Do If I Think My Friend Is Suffering From Depression? Remember: You can not fix them or their situation. You can choose to be a good friend but in the end only they can help themselves. Usually these people need to be understood, encouraged & supported not told what to do. They may or may not deal with their depression but you can be the support and encouragement they need to take the first step. Understand what they are feeling. Remember no feelings are pathetic or stupid. Encourage them. Usually what works best is, “I’m surprised by how well you’re doing.” This doesn’t have to be a lie if you try to really understand their situation. Ask what their good points are and the productive things they have done lately. Agree with them and tell them these strengths are good things. If they are confused, crying and don’t know what to do, professional help is a great suggestion. “Sounds like you may need to see your GP about it. They tend to deal with that stuff.” It’s gentle, non-threatening, keeps them in control, and probably won’t be taken in a demeaning way. Know that depression is not a choice but an illness. A person doesn’t choose to be depressed, yet they can choose to receive treatment in order to return their mood to a better level.

Where Can I Go To Find Out More Information? Reference: 2007-10-15, Lund beck Institute Australia, DepNet 200710-24, DepressioNet 2007-10-24, World Health Organisation 2007-10-24, eMedicineHealth 2007-10-24, MoodGYM, The Australian National University