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Information on Depression


Perhaps before we discuss what depression is, it may be beneficial to discuss what depression is not.

Going through a brief 'bad patch' or just feeling 'a bit down' or 'a bit sad' is not depression. True, they may be forerunners of becoming depressed however these mild feelings which everyone who lives and breathes experiences from time to time are not what we are talking about when we say someone has depression.

How Does Depression Feel?

Depression is very difficult to describe adequately. No words can truly convey the absolute feeling of 'nothingness' that is depression.

If you can imagine being down a very deep, very black hole from which there is no way out, no escape, no hope, you feel absolutely alone. If there were 20 people down that hole with you, you would still feel absolutely alone. It is terrifying for the sufferer.

You are not in control of your feelings - they wash in and out of you without warning - you can't stop them, can't change them, can't stop them coming over you and you can't make them go away.

Everything is an effort - even the littlest things. Your feelings overwhelm you to the point where you just can't function. You know you should be doing things, but you just can't. You tell yourself you should get out of bed and have a shower, but you just can't make yourself do it. Then you decide it doesn't matter anyway, maybe tomorrow. There's no point in doing anything, it doesn't make any difference, doesn't make the feeling go away.

You tell yourself you should get up and have something to eat, but the feelings make it so you can't be bothered, you just 'can't'. Everything is like that - you just 'can't'.

Forget pep-talks and pulling yourself together, all that is just meaningless dribble from people who don't understand. In fact, it makes you feel worse, makes you feel unworthy, guilty, worthless, makes you want to run away and hide from the world.

All of the trappings of life become meaningless. You may own your own home, have a nice car, big screen tv, in fact materially you may want for nothing but you're not happy. All that 'stuff' seems pointless, it doesn't make you feel better.

Things are going on outside - you can hear them. Everthing is going on just like normal - out there, but you're not part of that, you feel separated from that. Inside here, inside you, you're stuck down a black hole and you can't seem to find a way out.

This is something of the nature of depression.


How Does Someone With Depression Behave?

Depression could be described as a disorder causing obsessive inward focus. Sufferers have an inability to turn their attention outside of themselves. Many spend vast amounts of time thinking but unable to convert their thoughts into orderly action.

They may have bursts of activity however these activities may show disordered thinking. For example, over a period of time they may start many jobs around the house and finish none of them until their surroundings are a complete disarray of unfinished tasks. This can happen at work too.

Sometimes they can have difficulties doing simple tasks or following simple instructions. You may ask someone with depression to please 'move these tools to this spot over here', after a time you may return to find that the items you asked to be moved have not been touched at all, but a series of other small less urgent tasks have been started or completed instead.

The feeling of wellbeing associated with a nice day when the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping in the trees often makes no difference to someone suffering depression. The only thing they feel is how they are on the inside, they are mentally trapped inside themselves with little or no ability to draw enjoyment from outside sources or truly focus on external activities.

This inward focus can come across as disinterest, lack of concern for others or refusal to do as requested.

Someone Needs To Act:

Partners, family, friends and workmates need to recognise when someone is not behaving in their usual manner. This can be difficult because sometimes depression can come on slowly over a long period of time. You may think your husband, wife, son, daughter, friend has become 'lazy', disorganised, disinterested, doesn't love or like you anymore, is intolerant of others, cranky, temperamental, has a 'short fuse', is aggressive or violent.

THINK BACK!

Is this the person you have known for years?
Is this the person you fell in love with?
Is this person acting completely out of character?

Depression does not only affect the sufferer, it is a test of the mettle of those who support them and their committment to doing whatever it takes to bring the sufferer to a full recovery. It is not easy supporting someone who is depressed but doing it well is the most important thing many of you will do in your lives, whether you realise it or not.

If someone you know has been diagnosed with depression they need all the help and understanding you can give them.

Some of the Common Signs of Depression are:

  • Feeling miserable or sad most of the time.
  • Trouble sleeping or altered sleep patterns.
  • Lack of motivation to do the things you usually do.
  • Having an increasing number of tasks started but not finishing any.
  • Inability to attend to particular tasks - putting things off for no good reason, being unable to bring yourself to do a job that needs doing.
  • Experiencing difficulty making decisions.
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate on things or get your thoughts in order.
  • Not wanting to see family or friends you usually like to see.
  • Thinking about death or how it would be if you weren't here anymore.

If you think you may have depression or someone you know may have depression please seek immediate help from your GP or other support service. Depression is treatable and help is available but you must take the first step.

True depression is not something you can fix by yourself. Left untreated it can have serious long term consequences.

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Different Types of Depression:

Biological Depression
Can be hereditary (other members of your family may suffer from it).

Organic Depression
Caused by underlying medical conditions (e.g. hypothyroidism).

Reactive Depression
Comes from lifes events and situations you find yourself in.

Depression as a result of anxiety.

Depression associated with Schizophrenia.

Depression associated with personality disorders.

Psychotic depression
This type of depression is where psychosis is a major feature (hearing or seeing things that are not there or believing things that are not true).

Manic Depression
Also known as Bipolar Disorder. This involves alternating moods between extreme highs (manic or mania) and extreme lows (depression). There are different forms of Bipolar Disorder and you will find more information about this under the 'Bipolar' page.

It should be noted that psychosis can accompany any form of depression. The human brain is very complex and we as individuals are all very different. No one will have exactly the same symptoms or experiences as someone else.

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