One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime.
all about depression
There are times in everyone’s life when we feel down or like we just can’t cope. Feeling depressed, sad or anxious can be a normal reaction to loss, stress, worry, or periods of low self-esteem. But when these feelings last for more than a few days or weeks, and stop us from living life as usual, it can be a sign that something is wrong in our heads.
Depression is the most common mental health condition. It’s characterised by a persistently low mood, feelings of sadness, and a loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable. Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain with the hormones that regulate emotions and mood, or can be triggered by a stressful event.
The average length of a depressive episode is 6-8 months. If left untreated, episodes of depression can keep reoccurring and get worse over time.
It’s normal to feel sad, down or anxious at times, but when these feelings stop us from living our normal life, seeing people, sleeping properly, or going to work, it could be a case of depression.
People will experience depression differently, but common signs include:
- Feeling sad or down for no rational reason
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Inability to concentrate or make simple decisions
- Overthinking past situations or constantly worrying about the future
- Being low on energy and not feel like leaving the house
- Drinking to excess or doing drugs to try and stop thinking
- Not wanting to make eye contact or talk to people
- Suicidal thoughts and feeling like the world would be better without you
One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime. There are no typical characteristics of people who are more or less likely to get depressed, although depression can be genetic.
- If people in your family have had depression, you are more at risk of depression.
- Depression can be triggered by stressful occasions and events, so people are more likely to develop depression after stressful or life changing events such as becoming a father, being made redundant, financial loss or the death of someone close.
- Depression has also been linked to a lack of serotonin being produced in the brain, or having low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that gives us feelings of happiness or euphoria.
- If you use a lot of marijuana or drugs that release serotonin, you might have low levels of serotonin and be more at risk.
If you think you might have depression, you can do an online test at depression.org.nz to help determine if what you are feeling is just a blue moment, or if you might have an episode of depression.
The next step is to talk to your doctor or health professional. Doctors are trained in mental health as well as physical health, and can help to determine the cause of your depression, answer your questions and work with you on treatment options.
Depending on your lifestyle, beliefs, and how your depression is impacting on your life and those around you, treatment options might include:
- Other medications to help you sleep or correct chemical imbalances in your brain
- Therapy and counselling
Nothing’s an instant fix, and it might take a few tries to find something that works for you.
Some people will have an episode of depression that can last up to a few months, and then never experience it again, while others might experience depression periodically throughout their life. The good news is that people who continue to have bouts of depression often learn what triggers it, and can take action to avoid being in that situation, or learn mental exercises to cope.