Mental Health Topic – What is Depression?

This mental health topic discusses depression. If you are suffering from depression or any other mental illness please seek help from your doctor or mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor. If anything in this publication is beginning to upset you, please stop reading it immediately.

Mental Health Topic -What is Depression?

If you ask a group of people who have or are currently suffering from clinical depression to define what depression is, you’ll hear a variety of answers. The reason why is depression is a very personal experience that affects millions of people throughout the world.

Whilst different people manifest different symptoms of depression, one thing is certain – depression is a difficult illness that can ruin your life if left unresolved.

Many people with depression describe it as a sense of despair that engulfs everything they do and everything they feel. They often describe it as having the life sucked out of them, leaving them feeling weak and unable to function normally.

Depression takes everything away from you; it saps your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your joy. You just don’t care about anything; nothing matters and even the people you love become unimportant.

Physical Concerns of Depression

Depression doesn’t only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can cause serious physical problems as well. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat incessantly. It also zaps your energy and motivation.

When you’re depressed, you tend to become inactive. This alone can cause a number of problems, but when added to some of the other physical side effects of depression, it’s easy to see why depression is such a serious illness.

In addition, depression can lead to:

  • Lack of sleep. Depression can cause insomnia, which strips the body of the necessary sleep to function properly.
  • Poor nutrition. When depressed, many people fail to take in proper nutrients. It takes too much effort to plan and prepare a meal. This can cause several health problems.
  • Aches and pains. If anyone tells you that your mental state has no effect on your physical state, they’re wrong. When you’re depressed, the chemicals in the brain that signal pain are as affected as the chemicals in your brain that help you feel happy.

Physical aches and pains are increased, which in turn, kicks in the sad feelings and the cycle begins again.

  • Hygiene issues. Someone suffering from depression doesn’t have the energy or the motivation to be concerned with self-care which can also become problematic and further accentuate the downward spiral many people experience.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

These are some common symptoms for those suffering depression experience:

  • Constant and severe sadness about everything
  • Hopelessness
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of interest in things that once interested them
  • Feeling worthless, useless, and strangely guilty for no reason at all
  • Serious change in weight, one way or the other
  • Lack of energy and fatigue

One thing about depression is certain: it’s a serious condition and should be taken seriously.

As depression progresses, it feeds on itself like a snowball rolling downhill. The longer someone is depressed, the worse the depression gets until they see no way out of it at all. They become resigned to being miserable all the time.

Depression can be caused by a certain event, the change of seasons, a loss of someone close, or even a chemical imbalance in the brain. The treatment for depression usually involves therapy such as counselling or medication that helps alter brain chemistry.

If you know someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is be their friend. Talk to them and help them through this period. Help them seek medical care to treat their illness. It’s also important to regularly check in on them to make sure they’re ok.

If you think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor or allied health care provider. Depression doesn’t have to ruin your life! With help and support, you can conquer your depression, move past it, and go on to live a joyful life. You can bite back against the black dog!


If you need help and/or support, always speak with your doctor, allied health practitioner or mental health specialist. You can also call the following numbers:

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
  • Men’s Line Australia: 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
  • Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service: 1800 011 046
  • The Mental Health Telephone Access Line: 1800 011 511.