Depression: it’s much more common than you think

Depression: it’s much more common than you think

Depression affects one in six people at some point in their lifetime, yet fewer than half those affected ever access treatment. Here is how to identify symptoms and connect yourself or a loved one with the right support.

Painting a mental picture

Imagine a class of 30 children. According to statistics, five of those children will be affected by depression at some point in their lifetime. One in six people in your office, on your commute to work, or at the supermarket picking up their groceries will have depression at some stage in their life. Yet, despite this, social stigma still impacts sufferers.

Although treatments for depression are readily available, fewer than half those affected receive these treatments. Stigma is not the only barrier, however. Lack of resources, limited access to trained healthcare providers and incorrect diagnoses can all complicate affected people’s access to treatment. Thankfully, in Australia, good help is available – we just need to connect sufferers with the right services.

Depression in Australia

According to mental health organisation Beyond Blue, three million Australians are living with depression or anxiety, which will affect their wellbeing, personal relationships, career and productivity.

Research shows that job or financial loss can increase a person’s risk of health problems, including depression and anxiety; and people who have gone through traumatic life events including bereavement and abuse, are also more likely to suffer from depression.

Depression is also commonly associated with physical health. Chronic illness or pain issues can lead to depression and vice versa, and the social isolation associated with age and disease can exacerbate symptoms.

Common depression symptoms

Depression can affect anyone, of any age, gender, socio economic group, background, or belief system. The symptoms are varied and can present differently from person to person but include:

  • Sadness
  • Difficulty eating or eating too much
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Low energy, fatigue and reduced activity
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions or remembering things
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Back pain or headaches
  • Feeling sick and run down

It is important to note that symptoms can vary with age and, particularly in older people, can be misdiagnosed as physical illnesses. Suicidal thoughts are a crucial indicator of depression and should always be taken very seriously, particularly in the case of elderly men, who have a high rate of suicide linked to depression.

Getting help

The support for depression in Australia is world class, but uptake can be low. Men are even less likely to seek help, with only one in four men accessing treatment. As depression can be an ‘invisible’ illness, with symptoms that are easily confused or missed, it is important that loved ones offer support and assistance in connecting sufferers to the right help.

Start with research. Talk to your GP, or go online to Beyond Blue, the Black Dog Institute or headspace. If you are concerned that or someone you care about is affected by depression, the next step is to seek professional help.

Our Albert Road Clinic provides supportive care for those suffering from mental health issues. We offer inpatient, day patient, outpatient and community based care, accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.

Treatment is based on individual needs and can include care from psychiatrists, medical practitioners, registered nurses and allied health practitioners to help support and guide you or your loved one back to health.

As the largest private provider of mental health care in Australia, Ramsay Mental Health is dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of those we treat.