Why can’t I just ‘snap out’ of my black mood?
When depression is mild you may be feeling miserable or unhappy but it generally does not stop you from living your normal day-to-day life, though everything may take more effort and be less enjoyable. When depression is more severe it causes a persistent feeling of sadness and leads to a loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, often affecting how you feel, think and behave, and can affect your physical and emotional well-being. Depression can affect the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, the way you think about things, and the way you interact with others. It can make you feel that life is not worth living and make you suicidal. For many people symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems at home, work or studies, social activities, and in relationships.
Significant depression means that you cannot just “snap out of it” and “get on” with life. It is not a sign of weakness and treatment is required. This usually involves a combination of psychological therapy and medication
It is not uncommon for depression and anxiety to occur at the same time. Three million Australians are living with depression or anxiety in Australia (1). These are mental disorders that are pervasive in the world. Depression is one of the leading cause of disability across the globe.
Is there a secret to beating depression?
While we all feel depression at various appropriate times in our lives, excess or inappropriate depression cannot be easily dismissed or wished away. The first secret to beating depression is to recognize and acknowledge it; the next is to get the help you need.
Depression stops you working, enjoying life or even functioning as you should. If you are feeling down, depressed or hopeless; experience a lack of interest or pleasure in doing things; poor sleep; lack of appetite or eating too much; feeling guilty about things that aren’t really your fault; poor concentration; feeling tired; having thoughts that you might be better off dead; being short-tempered, not wanting to socialize or bursting into tears for no known reason, you should seek help.
The signs will vary from person to person as will the degree of severity. However, if these feelings have persisted for a substantial amount of time most days for two weeks, then it’s time to see your doctor and discuss your treatment options. There are a number of well-defined and evidence-based psychological therapies that can effectively treat depression. Key interventions are treatment with a combination of counselling and if needed, antidepressant medication.
(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. no. (4326.0) Canberra: ABS