While all of us experience normal feelings of unhappiness or sadness from time to time, clinical depression is a more serious state of depressed mood which is present all or most of the time, for at least 2 weeks. Depression is common and affects up to one in four people at some time in their lives.


  • The causes of depression are not fully understood. However, a combination of biological, genetic, psychological and social factors can contribute to its development. People who have a history of depression among close family members may have an increased risk of developing depression due to genetic factors. People with personalities characterised by low self esteem, perfectionism, self criticism or high levels of sensitivity may also be more prone to developing depression.

  • Significant life events such as a job loss, family separation or other negative or traumatic events may trigger an episode of depression.

  • Ongoing stressful situations such as abusive relationships, work stress or social isolation can cause depression over time.

  • Bio chemical changes in the brain have also been identified as a cause of depression.

  • A serious medical illness combined with the ongoing worry and stress associated with the illness can lead to depression.

  • Some medications, illegal drugs and alcohol abuse can worsen depression, while at the same time also making it more difficult to treat if substance abuse is used as a coping mechanism.


  • Emotional symptoms of depression include feeling sad, hopeless or depressed most of the time; loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities; becoming socially withdrawn from  friends and family; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; crying for no apparent reason; or suicidal thoughts or plans.

  • Physical symptoms include low energy, fatigue and reduced activity; sleep problems (e.g. getting to sleep, staying asleep or sleeping excessively); digestive problems; changes in appetite or weight; reduced sex drive (libido). Other symptoms include difficulty concentrating and making decisions.

  • Symptoms of anxiety are also common in people who have depression as the two conditions often occur together.

  • Contemplating or planning suicide indicates a need for urgent help. In a crisis phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call an ambulance
    (dial 000).

  • Anyone who has felt down and sad for more than two weeks, and has experienced other symptoms noted above, should consider making an appointment with their doctor or counsellor. 


  • Treatment for depression will depend on the type and severity of the condition. This usually involves a combination of strategies which can include psychological treatment (e.g. counselling); medication; and lifestyle changes such as physical exercise. In cases where depression is prolonged, disabling and suicide is a risk, admission to hospital may be appropriate in order to provide a safer environment in which treatment can occur.
  • Complementary self help strategies to assist with the management of depression include:
    1. talking about your feelings to a close friend or family member.
    2. regular physical exercise to help lift mood and feelings through release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain.
    3. eating a healthy diet.
    4. limiting consumption of alcohol, coffee and other drugs.
    5. balancing work, rest and recreation.
    6. taking regular time out to practice relaxation (e.g. breathing and muscle relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, music, experiencing nature etc.).
    7. planning regular social outings / engagements into your routine.
    8. forming healthy sleep patterns.
    9. maintaining a more positive outlook on life.
    10. postponing any major life decisions until you feel better.
    11. breaking big jobs in to smaller tasks spread out over a longer period so they do not become overwhelming.
    12. where possible, avoiding situations that may add to your depression.

Depending on the type and severity of depression, different levels of treatment are likely to be appropriate. While urgent or severe cases may require medical intervention and possibly hospitalisation, less severe cases may simply require medical monitoring, complemented with counselling and self help strategies.

To make an appointment to discuss with a Positive Solutions counsellor phone 1800 064 039


162 Macquarie Street Hobart
1800 064 039

8 Hobart Road Kings Meadows
1800 064 039


For more information about anxiety visit:

beyond blue ( )
Black Dog Institute ( )
Sane Australia
Headspace (
Lifeline (

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