The tragic news of Charlotte Dawson's death this week has had a profound effect on many people and highlighted the difficulties of dealing with mental illness. Charlotte had an ongoing history of Depression, something that affects over 1 million Australians each year. On a global scale Depression effects over 350 million people and is the biggest cause of disability.
Often people with Depression find it difficult to ask for help, there is still a stigma associated with mental health issues. Charlotte was courageous in publicly talk about her struggles and inspired others to also talk about their experiences. Many people may not realise that Depression is manageable with professional assistance and people don't need to struggle on their own or in the worse case scenario take their own life out of a sense of hopelessness.
How do you know if you have depression? If you have depression you might feel irritable, moody and can be very sensitive to even minor criticism. You might feel like withdrawing from friends and family and sometimes you’ll have difficulty going to work or school. You might stop enjoying food, exercise and the things that previously gave you pleasure. Some people with depression try using alcohol or drugs to numb feelings of sadness or to block out their feelings.
The most common symptoms or signs of clinical depression include:
- difficulty falling asleep or getting back to sleep
- lack of concentration, memory lapses and difficulty making decisions
- abnormal tiredness and overwhelming desire to stay in bed
- a lack of interest in food, sex, exercise or other activities you would normally enjoy
- isolating behaviour
- an increased sensitivity to criticism
- heightened moodiness
- an increase in feelings of frustration and irritation
- an increase in feelings of sadness and thoughts of hopelessness
- reckless and risk taking behaviour
- increased use of drugs and alcohol
If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms and have been doing so for two weeks or more than please seek out some help. Don’t go it alone. Depression is very treatable and the quicker you get help, the quicker you’ll feel better.
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Dr Mataji Kennedy is a Director at Select Counsellors for more information call 1300 123 680 or visit their website at www.selectcounsellors.com.