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How do you know if you have depression?

Depression: we’ve all heard of it, most of us know someone experiencing it, and many of us are going through it.

Indeed, almost half of Australians will experience a mental health condition during their lifetime[1] while an estimated 3 million of us have depression or anxiety[2]. Yet many people who experience depression either don’t quite realise what it is they are feeling, or may be uncomfortable talking or thinking about it.


Depression and anxiety are common

Depression and anxiety are very common conditions. But did you know that people in some places are more likely to experience it than others?

Communities that are battling (i.e. that have a higher incidence of socio-economic disadvantage) often have higher rates of mental health disorders — and Melbourne is no exception. Mental health conditions are prevalent across the outer suburbs and particularly in places (i.e. local government areas) like Brimbank, Hume and Maribyrnong.

Where people are doing it tough, a mental health condition can often be made worse by financial stress, like worrying about food, rent or the mortgage; drug and alcohol abuse; family violence; and even the presence of gambling machines.

If you’re concerned about depression and want to reach out to a friend, family member or counsellor, then this is a good place to start.

So, what is depression exactly?


Understanding depression

Depression is an intense and often prolonged feeling of sadness. Everyone gets upset or sad at some point, but it’s usually temporary and one generally ‘gets over it’ reasonably quickly. Depression, on the other hand, is intense sadness that lasts for a longer time: weeks, months or even years.

If you are depressed, you might find that it interferes with your intimate and family relations; with your work life; with your wellbeing; and even your physical health.

It is important to remember that occasionally feeling sad for a short duration does not necessarily mean you are depressed.


What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression is a highly personal experience that varies tremendously between individuals. While it’s different for everyone, here are some common symptoms of depression that you may be experiencing.


Depression symptoms that affect mood:

  • Feeling sad.
  • Feeling numb.
  • Feeling frustrated.
  • Getting irritable easily.
  • Feeling guilty.
  • Feeling miserable.


Depression symptoms that affect thinking:

  • Being very self-critical (e.g. “I feel worthless”, “I am a failure”).
  • Thinking you cannot cope.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Unable to concentrate.
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
  • Thinking that nothing good ever happens to me.


Depression symptoms that affect behaviour:

  • Losing interest in things and activities you used to enjoy.
  • Lacking motivation.
  • Lacking confidence.
  • Crying a lot.
  • Losing your temper more than usual.
  • Avoiding friends and family.


Depression symptoms that affect physical health:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Significant change in weight.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Headaches.
  • Stomach aches.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Feeling sick.


Not feeling right? Been feeling down? Need to talk to someone? Talk to a professional counsellor on 1300 096 269. It’s free to people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.

[2] Ibid


The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by On the Line. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.