It is estimated that 45 per cent of the population will experience an adverse mental health condition within their lifetime, with the most common being anxiety and depression.
Around one million Australian adults experience depression and over two million suffer anxiety conditions in any given year, and this figure is expected to rise over the coming decade.
It is hard to pinpoint what causes depression. Although there are consistent symptoms, the triggers and reasons for the disorder can be as unique as the individuals who suffer from them.
While there are ongoing studies into the causes and treatments for depression, our current understanding of depression falls into four main categories.
1. Family History
Although there has been no “depression gene” found, statistics do suggest you are more likely to experience depression at some stage of your life. However, a family history of depression does not mean you are destined for depression.
2. Illness and Poor Health
Acute or chronic illness, long-term or terminal health conditions, chronic mental health conditions and disability are common causes of depression and are understandable causations.
3. Medication, Drugs and Alcohol
Many pharmaceutical medications, recreational drugs, and alcohol abuse often all have the unfortunate side effects of depression. While this is not the case for everyone, it is consistent with drug and alcohol data and pharmaceutical studies.
Though this is a highly complex issue too prolific to discuss in this article, they are significant contributors to depression and anxiety statistics.
Some studies suggest that certain personality types are more prone to experience or develop depression.
Though this is another broad topic, some people seem to be more sensitive than others to stressors and triggers such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Unattainable perfectionism
- Tendencies to work to burnout
- Extreme life events, loss and other depression triggers
While these four categories are a primary focus for diagnosis by mental health professionals, many triggers fall into more than one of these categories.
Additional Depression Triggers
Everyday stressors, complications, and painful life events could trigger a depression or anxiety condition, including:
- Loss of a loved one
- Losing your job or long term unemployment
- Dysfunctional or abusive relationships
- A relationship breakup or divorce
- Work-related stress
- Isolation and loneliness
- Adverse health diagnoses and more
- Being unemployed for a long time
While many hardships in life can result in depression, there are some early warning signs that you may be on the verge of burnout and heading for a depressive episode.
Read on for some tips to recognise depression early, and see some suggestions to help negate, manage and treat depression.
Hidden Signs of Depression and How to Recognise Them?
While depression may be triggered by a significant life event or trauma in many circumstances, depression can also creep in slowly via lots of little pressures and stressors. It is beneficial to address these possible signs of depression early on and ensure you take the time or get the support you need before depression takes hold or gets out of control.
Depression in women is nearly twice as likely to manifest compared to their male peers, and women are more likely to get misdiagnosed.
Appetite and Rapid Shifts in Weight
A sudden change in appetite, be that a reduction or increase can signify you are not coping so well in other areas of your life or with your current stress load. However, a sudden change in appetite can also signal a range of other health conditions, so it is always wise to consult your healthcare professional.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
For the human mind and body to maintain good health, adults should be getting a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep every night. So if you suddenly notice your sleep patterns changing, it could be a sign your mind is racing at night or something is a little out of balance.
Abnormal or Uncontrolled Drug and Alcohol Use
Depression and drug and alcohol misuse have a long and checkered partnership. If you find that your usage of recreational substances is getting more frequent or out of your control, depression could be an underlying issue.
Depression Self Help
While medically diagnosed depression can often be treated with a course of antidepressants and other mood stabilisers, these are just tools to help people get back on track, and a lot of the power to manage depression comes down to the individual making informed lifestyle changes.
Some of the best ways to help yourself manage or treat your depression naturally include, but are not limited to:
- Sticking to a positive daily routine
- Set goals and pathways
- Exercises daily, even when you don’t feel like it
- Maintain a healthy balanced diet
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Ensure you get enough good quality sleep
- Be mindful of A.N.T.S (automatic negative thoughts)
Ensure you have a support network, and talk about your depression
Sometimes when you are suffering from depression, things can seem helpless. However, our rational perception when we are in a phase of depression can be compromised.
Ensure you develop mindfulness and gratitude practices, as they have been shown effective in maintaining a healthy and balanced mindset. If you feel like your depression is out of hand or feel like there is no hope, help is always available.