About Low mood and sadness
Low mood and sadness are normal human emotions. We all feel sad or low at times. There are lots of different words for describing these feelings, including feeling blue, unhappy, down or flat.
When we experience low mood and sadness we often are affected by three types of symptoms:
1 - Unhelpful Thoughts:
Examples include: self-critical and negative thoughts about yourself. Feeling hopeless or helpless about yourself and the future. Other mental symptoms include having difficulty concentrating, having poor attention and poor memory.
2 - Physical Symptoms:
These include: feeling tired or exhausted, changes in sleep and appetite, reduced sexual interest, walking or moving more slowly.
3 - Changes in Behaviour:
Examples include: becoming more irritable, avoiding people and places. Avoiding things you used to enjoy doing. Not getting the same pleasure from your usual activities.
Because most of us feel sad or low at times we can usually all recognise some of these symptoms. However, there are important differences between feeling sad and low and having depression.
What is depression?
Depression is diagnosed when symptoms of sadness and low mood are severe, happen too often, and affect a person’s ability to live a normal life. These symptoms should be present for at least two weeks, although people may experience symptoms for years before seeking treatment. Depression should only be diagnosed by a registered and experienced health professional.
About 1 million Australians will experience depression each year, but people may also have less severe symptoms which affect the quality of their life. Many people have symptoms that increase and decrease over time.
Depression is a serious condition. It often makes us feel hopeless and helpless and can lead to suicidal thoughts. When people are depressed they may have thoughts of hurting themselves or of ending their life. If you are having such thoughts please urgently contact Lifeline (13 11 14), your GP, another health professional, or your local mental health team or click here. If you require immediate assistance, dial 000. Remember, Depression can be treated.
Having depression does not mean that a person has a weak personality or a weak character. Instead, we believe that people with depression often have not had a chance to learn skills for managing these symptoms. And, the symptoms of depression can make it hard for people to recover, so it isn’t unusual for people to try treatment several times, or have reminder-sessions once treatment is over to help them stay well. depression can also occur with an anxiety disorder, which can make it harder to recover.
Treatment for depression
The good news is that depression can be treated. We also know that people with symptoms of low mood and sadness, but who don’t have depression, can still benefit from learning skills that are taught in psychological treatment programs. This can stop symptoms from becoming severe. Effective treatment of depression also often reduces symptoms of other psychological disorders, such as Anxiety Disorders. We believe that the best treatments involve learning about your symptoms, learning skills for managing those symptoms, and then gradually resuming your usual activities. Learning to beat depression is hard work. We have worked with thousands of Australians with depression, and they all tell us that it takes courage, commitment and practice. The good news is that our results show that people often experience a 50% reduction in symptoms after treatment. Importantly, even if their symptoms return, people often find that they are more resilient and can bounce back more quickly following treatment.
- Talk to your General Practitioner. Please note that it is important that you see your doctor for a check-up to rule out other causes for symptoms of depression.
- See a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or another mental health professional to learn to manage depression.
- Complete a MindSpot Online Screening Assessment to learn more about your symptoms and treatment options.
- Find out more about or MindSpot Treatment Courses for learning practical skills for overcoming low mood, sadness and depression.