Older man, concerned lookWe all feel sad from time to time. It is to be expected that in certain situations we will feel sad, for example, if someone we know dies or is unwell, or if we are having relationship difficulties or troubles at work


The term "depression" is used a lot in daily language to describe feeling low, down or sad. However, depression is more than feeling sad. It is a clinical medical 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                                    


In addition, the person experiences 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?

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)

1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men will have an episode of serious depression at some stage in their lives

In Australia about 1 million adults aged 16-85 years and 160,000 young adults, aged 16-24 years, experience depression each year

Last Updated : 22-Sep-2013