It’s 2022, and life has been pretty hard the past three years. COVID-19, lockdowns, job losses, isolation from families and friends – they all add up. If you are feeling down and blue, you are not alone. But how do you know if you are depressed or just feeling down? This is when talking to a mental health professional or your GP can help if you have been feeling down for a period of time, and it’s impacting on your functioning or you are feeling distressed by this. Read on for 9 facts you need to know about depression:
1. Depression is really common. Here are some eye-opening statistics for New Zealand
· 1 in 7 will experience depression before they are 24 years old
· 1 in 8 men will experience depression
· 1 in 5 women will experience depression
· 1 in 4 New Zealanders will experience anxiety
· 1 in 5 people with depression or anxiety will experience both at the same time
2. It’s not just in New Zealand – globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression (World Health Organization)
3. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide (World Health Organization)
4. More women are affected by depression than men.
5. How do you know if you are depressed? Below are common symptoms of depression. In order to be diagnosed with depression, you would need at least 5 or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer.
· Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
· Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities increase in appetite nearly every day
· A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
· Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
· Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
· Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
· Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
6. Depression is treatable and there are many different treatment options available that can suit you and your needs. The important factors are 1) Taking care of your physical health so getting enough sleep, exercise and eating well, and 2) Reaching out and getting support from other people; whether that’s friends, families or health professionals.
7. There are lots of free helplines in New Zealand. I used to work in Depression and Lifeline Helpline, and volunteered for 8 years at Youthline so I am really passionate about counselling helplines. They are amazing supports for everyone. Here are their details:
· Need to Talk (24/7), call 1737, or text 1737
· Depression Helpline (24/7) 0800 111 757, or text 4202
· Lifeline Helpline (24/7) 0800 543 354, text 4357
· Youthline Helpline 0800 376 633, text 234
8. I want you to know that there is hope. Here is one of my favourite quotes – “There is always hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t” (John Green).
9. Reach out to health professionals like your GP, midwife or you can self-refer to Clinical Psychologists like me.