It is normal to feel sad, frustrated and down from time to time, especially when something upsetting happens. It is also normal to have mild mood swings, where you may feel extra happy sometimes, grumpy or flat on other occasions, or fairly good overall. However, when a low mood persists, worsens or develops without any obvious reason, you may be experiencing something more serious, such as Depression.

What are the main signs and symptoms of Depression?

  • A low mood that occurs more often than feeling good. A low mood can be felt in a variety of ways. Some people feel very sad or empty. They may feel like they are in a fog, where everything seems gloomy and bleak. Others may feel irritable and angry. They may feel a pounding in their chest, or a churning in their stomach. This can lead to angry outbursts.
  • Physical symptoms are common in Depression. Some people notice body aches and pains (such as back pain and headaches) and often experience these symptoms before noticing a mood change. You may find that you literally think and move slower than normal. You may feel exhausted all the time, despite sleeping a lot. Your appetite may have also changed, where you may be eating more or less than usual.
  • Loss of pleasure and excitement in activities you used to enjoy. For example, you may have lost interest in your hobbies, meeting up with friends, or having sex. Overall, you may feel uninspired and uninterested in life.
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. It is common to see yourself through a negative lens when you are depressed. You may find that you blame yourself whenever something goes wrong, have little confidence in your abilities, and feel useless and unlovable. For example, maybe you can’t understand why your partner loves you and feel insecure in your relationship. Or perhaps, you hate your job, but your confidence gets in the way of applying for a new job. You may also believe you’re not good enough. For example, you may strive for perfection, but never feel satisfied with yourself. Or you may avoid trying at all, to avoid a sense of failure.
  • It is difficult to see the positive in life. You may have lost hope that life could change or improve. You may struggle to see the point of life, and be searching for an answer. People who are depressed also tend to assume the worst. For example, you may expect to fail at whatever you do.
  • Self-harm and thoughts of suicide. You may engage in self-harm as a form of coping, or a way to relieve feelings of distress. Similarly, thoughts of suicide may offer you temporary relief, as you see a way to escape your difficulties. However, such attempts to avoid difficult feelings are unhelpful, and do not improve your low mood. **NB: If you are experiencing these symptoms, please read about treatment options below.

How does Depression affect me?

  • Relationships tend to suffer. You may feel like a burden on your family – rather than reach out and ask for support, you may try to “soldier on” and hide your real feelings. Or you may experience more conflicts than usual – perhaps you often feel irritable and have a short fuse, which results in lashing out at your loved ones. Or maybe you withdraw from your friends, because you don’t think you have anything meaningful to contribute. This can leave you feeling alone and unhappy.
  • Lack of motivation. Simple daily tasks can suddenly seem like Mt Everest. You might find that you become overwhelmed by the thought of getting out of bed and showering. You might struggle to stay on top of school/uni work or fall behind on work tasks. You may struggle to be organised with life tasks, including paying bills late, keeping the house tidy and preparing meals.
  • Your work or school/uni performance may be affected. You might find that you are taking lots of sick days or frequently turning up late. You may find it difficult to concentrate, causing you to struggle to keep up with your workload. Your boss or teacher may be getting increasingly frustrated with you.
  • Depression can affect your sleep. You may be sleeping a lot more than usual, yet still feel exhausted. Or you may find it difficult to “switch off” and fall asleep at night, or you may wake in the early hours of the morning, dreading your day ahead.
  • Depression can impact on your libido and desire for intimacy. You may find that you are constantly looking for excuses not to have sex with your partner. You may also find that don’t enjoy sex and may struggle to reach an orgasm. Depression can sometimes lead to erectile dysfunction in men.
  • You may engage in risky behaviours as a way to cope. For example, you may find that you are drinking excessively to numb the pain, or driving recklessly. You may have lost all hope for your future and therefore do not care about your actions and their consequences.
  • Depression affects people in different ways. It is common to see children and adolescents express their distress via irritability. Whilst men may feel and express Depression in different ways, it is more likely to manifest in anger and physical pain. Men tend to mask their depression with unhealthy coping strategies, such as drinking too much.

How can I treat my Depression?

There are several well-researched treatments that are effective in treating depression, including: Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychoeducation, Self-Help, Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Solution-focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Emotion-focused Therapy and medication.

**If you are thinking of harming yourself or have self-harmed already, it is important you immediately reach out for support. We recommend seeing your GP or contacting one of the following free 24 hour helplines:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

If you or someone you know are at serious risk of harm, please call 000 as a matter of emergency.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?

We are experienced and trained in treating psychological difficulties like Depression. If you are experiencing Depression and would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.