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When it’s difficult to bounce backBY AMBER ATKINSON COMMUNICATIONS & POLICY OFFICER, VEGETABLESWADepression is a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.You are not alone!3 millionAustralians are living with anxiety or depression.1 in 5Australians aged between 16–85 will experience a common mental health illness in a 12-month period.1 in 8 males will experience depression (over a 12-month period).1 in 5 females will experience depression (over a 12-month period).Suicide is the leading cause of death in males between the ages of 15–44.While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason Depression is more than just a low mood — it's a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.Signs and symptomsYou may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you've felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you're depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.Behaviour• not going out anymore• not getting things done at work/ school• withdrawing from close family and friends• relying on alcohol and sedatives• not doing usual enjoyable activities• unable to concentrate.Feelings• overwhelmed• guilty• irritable• frustrated• lacking in confidence• unhappy• indecisive• disappointed• miserable• sad.Thoughts• 'I’m a failure.'• 'It’s my fault.'• 'Nothing good ever happens to me.'• 'I’m worthless.'• 'Life’s not worth living.'• 'People would be better off without me.'Physical• tired all the time• sick and run down• headaches and muscle pains• churning gut• sleep problems• loss or change of appetite• significant weight loss or gain.What causes depression?While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, a number of things are often linked to its development. Depression usually results from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event.Life eventsResearch suggests that continuing difficulties — long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness, prolonged work stress — are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. However, recent events (such as losing your job) or a combination of events can ‘trigger' depression if you’re already at risk because of previous bad experiences or personal factors.Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk.Personal factorsFamily historyDepression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, having a parent or close relative with depression doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have the same experience. Life circumstances and other personal factors are still likely to have an important influence.PersonalitySome people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative.Serious medical illnessThe stress and worry of coping with a serious illness can lead to depression, especially if you’re dealing with longterm management and/or chronic pain.Drug and alcohol useDrug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time, at some point in their lives.1Still wondering where you sit on the mental health spectrum?The Beyond Blue website features a simple anxiety and depression checklist, which asks you to reflect on your feelings over the past four weeks.Together, these ten questions measure how distressed you’ve been recently, by signs of depression and anxiety.It is a measure of distress commonly used by Australian GPs and mental health professionals to determine what level of support you may require.After completing this checklist, you can print your score for your records or to give to your GP.Help for people for whom English is not their first languagePeople who do not use English as their first language can get free translation support from the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) by visiting www.tisnational.gov.auThe Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is an interpreting service provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non- English speaking clients.Immediate and pre-booked phone interpreting services are available.MORE INFORMATIONVisit www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety-and-depression-checklist-k10 If you or anyone you know needs help, contact:• Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au• MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or www.mensline.org.au/Home.html• Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au• Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au• Headspace https://headspace.org.au/If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. DISCLAIMER: Information in this article was supplied by Beyond Blue. Visit www.beyondblue.org.aufor more information.