Understanding Depression

Depression is a common mental illness in Men and Women, in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.

Being depressed is more than feeling down for a day or two – it usually continues for weeks or months at a time. Depression can range from being a mild illness, to a severe one – where you can lose interest in life and the things you used to enjoy. Depression left untreated can lead to other health care and life problems, and if severe enough, even suicide.

What Causes Depression?
Depression can be caused by one specific incident or a combination of factors. Grief over the loss of a loved one, a major life change, physical or emotional harm by another person, a physical injury, illness, or even side effects of medication could cause depression. Depression can also be caused by changes in the brain, and in many instances is hereditary. Depression often runs in families.

What are the Signs of Depression?
Some symptoms of depression may include:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough
  • Feeling worthless and helpless
  • Having no energy and feelings of low self-esteem
  • Sadness or emotional ‘numbness’

Do not blame yourself for these symptoms and do not permit them to grow worse. Instead, seek help.

Myths About Depression
There are many myths about depression. These include the beliefs that depression is a sign of weakness and that you are hopeless, crazy, or should be able to “just snap out of it.”

It is also a myth that depression causes alcoholism or other drug addictions. Addictive diseases are primary illnesses, which means they are not secondary or caused by other medical conditions. It is possible to have both diagnoses at the same time. This is called a ‘dual diagnosis.’

How is Depression Treated?
Depression may be treated with or without medication, with individual or group counselling, diet, exercise, or other types of interventions including alternative therapies. Mild-moderate depression can be treated online! Regardless of the approach taken, it is important to have depression evaluated by either your doctor or an Instep psychologist or counsellor. Thoughts of suicide warrant the immediate need for medical help.

What your EAP Can Do
If you are concerned if you may be depressed, see your GP first. Instep can help by referring you to a professional in your area for assessment and treatment.

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