01 October 2019

Health Spotlight: Depression

Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. It isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder. 

Those who suffer from depression experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Aside from the emotional problems caused by depression, individuals can also present with a physical symptom such as chronic pain or digestive issues. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

What treatments are available?

Medication – through your GP or referral to a psychiatrist. Medication can be very helpful for a lot of people, but it can take time to find one that works for you. It also will only deal with the symptoms, so you may still need other therapies to deal with the underlying cause of the depression.

Talking therapies – Talking therapy involves talking to someone about your problems and addressing them in a range of ways. You can find detailed information on Talking Therapies available in New Zealand here:  https://www.tepou.co.nz/uploads/files/resource-assets/A-Guide-to-Talking-Therapies-in-New-Zealand.pdf

Helping yourself

There are several online resources for working through your depression yourself too:

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