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Everyone feels down or sad sometimes, and most of us will identify as feeling depressed at times. However, this is usually in reference to a specific trigger – and the symptoms often go away after a short period of time.

Depression on the other hand is a serious mental health issue. People who experience depression experience a number of symptoms, which significantly impact their day to day functioning. These symptoms include;

  • Depressed mood most of the day every day
  • Diminished interest in nearly all activities
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive inappropriate guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Sleep and/or appetite disturbance

While nearly everyone experiences some of these symptoms at times, people with depression experience most or all symptoms.


While we don’t really know what causes depression, we know that there are number of factors that increases a person’s risk of developing a depressive illness. These include;

  • Family history of mental health issues
  • Personality factors; over-thinking, perfectionism, negative thinking
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Stressful life events
  • Physical health issues such as obesity and other chronic health conditions

While none of these things can be said to “cause” depression, a combination of these factors can mean that a person is more likely to develop depressive symptoms during their life time.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australian’s 25-44. While people who experience suicidal thoughts are often depressed, not all people with depression will have thoughts of wanting to die.

Risk factors for suicide include; 

  • Having a mental health or drug and alcohol problem
  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness (especially about the future)
  • Social isolation, family and/or relationship difficulties including family violence or loss of a loved one
  • Past suicide attempt
  • Being male (males have a much higher risk than females).

The most important thing to remember is that if you feel you might be depressed, talk to your GP or health specialist. We know from the research that the earlier we catch symptoms, the better the outcome.

In cases where there is a chronic health condition present such as obesity, treatment includes addressing and managing these symptoms; such as engaging in a medically assisted weight loss program. Helping a person achieve optimal physical health is a critical component of treatment when it comes to depression.

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