What is Depression?


We all feel sad from time to time. It’s normal to feel sad in certain situations, such as when someone we know dies or is seriously ill, or if we are having relationship difficulties or troubles at work. If we feel low, down or sad, we sometimes say we feel ‘depressed’. 


Depression, however, is more than feeling sad. It is a clinical condition that occurs when a person experiences at least two weeks of:


Feeling down, sad or miserable for much of the day, and/or


Loss of interest in pleasurable activities


What are the symptoms of depression?


A person experiencing depression usually has at least four other symptoms over two or more weeks, such as:


Changes in sleep patterns


Changes in appetite or weight


Lack of energy


Difficulties concentrating or making decisions


Agitation or slowing down of physical movements


Feelings of guilt or worthlessness


Recurrent thoughts of death  


Who gets depression?


In Australia, about 1 million adults (16-85) and 160,000 young adults (16-24) experience depression each year. Serious depression affects around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men during their lives.


A period of depression is most likely caused by several factors working together, such as recent stressful events as well as long-term risk factors (e.g. genetics).


Treatment for Depression 


There are effective treatments available for depression. For most, psychological treatments are effective. In very severe cases this may also include medication taken under the guidance of a medical practitioner.


Cognitive behaviour therapy. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is an effective structured psychological treatment for depression.  


CBT for depression helps you to learn how to identify and challenge any thoughts that fuel sadness, and learning techniques to help change behaviour. 


Where can I receive treatment for Depression?


There are a number of ways you can access psychological treatment for depression and you can choose a way that works best for you. This can be in-person with a mental health professional, or online with the support of a program.


By registering, you can access Mental Health Online’s free and comprehensive depression assessment and treatment. You may like to do this by yourself in our self-guided option, but you can also opt for our free therapist-assisted program via email, chat, or video.


Explore other treatment options


For further information about treatment options and assistance:


Visit your GP


Explore other online therapies at Head to Health


Find a Psychologist through the Australian Psychological Society’s referral service


Contact your local community health centre

Last Updated : 22-Dec-2021