Did you know that in any given year approximately one in 10 people will suffer from a depressive illness? Depression interferes with normal healthy functioning, affecting not only the sufferer but their family and friends as well. So if you think you might be depressed, don’t pretend nothing is wrong – there are ways of dealing with it.

Depression comes in many different shapes and forms. It can be brought on by a ‘trigger’, such as losing your job or breaking up with your partner. Or it can appear for no apparent reason at all. People suffer from mild, moderate and severe depression for weeks, months and sometimes even years.

While depression is classified as a mood disorder, it also affects your body and your thoughts (cognitions). As such, depression can make you sleep and eat more or less than you normally would. It can severely interfere with the way you feel and think about yourself, those around you and life itself. People who are depressed are often told to pull themselves together. But it’s not as simple as that.

The first step in treating depression is to see your doctor. People with milder forms of depression will usually benefit from talking to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. But people with moderate to severe depression will usually be prescribed antidepressants in addition to therapy.

There are many different brands of antidepressants on the market including Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox and Aropax. These drugs assist people with depression by ensuring that certain chemicals in the brain used to regulate mood are working properly. Because antidepressants are prescription-only medicine, they should only be taken under medical supervision.

In recent years an herbal remedy called St John’s Wort has also attracted attention as a remedy for depression. This plant extract is currently being research by the National Institute of Health and results as to its effectiveness will be published in the near future.

Depression is not something to shrug off. If you are suffering from a persistently sad, anxious, or ’empty’ mood, or if you are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, have difficulty in concentrating, or feel lethargic for no apparent reason, see your doctor now.

Remember – you don’t have to go it alone. There is a network of Aboriginal medical services out there to help you.

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