Depression has been recognised and people suffering from it reported for thousands of years. Hippocrates, sometimes described as the ‘Father of Medicine’, described a condition he named ‘melancholia’ over two thousand years ago. While he considered it to be caused by excess black bile, he recognised it to be characterized by the symptoms we would now consider to be those of depression, and regarded it as we do now as a cause of individual suffering and impairment in functioning.
Knowledge about depression has grown vastly since those times. And while this has helped our understanding and treatment of depressive conditions it has also revealed a number of failings and shortcomings in our overall management of the condition.
What has become obvious in contemporary research is just how high the incidence and just how much suffering depression in various forms causes. The WHO reports that worldwide Depressive Disorders are the leading cause of Years Lived with Disability (YLD). In Australia Depressive Disorders now exceed the combined YLD of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Depressive illness is also increasing at an alarming rate of approximately 1pc/year with only (10-25)pc of all those currently suffering receiving treatment.
There are a number of formally recognised and diagnosed depressive illnesses. These include Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Dysthymia and depressive symptoms associated with such conditions as various Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders and PTSD.
So what are the features of Depressive Disorders? Essentially these can be grouped into affective, cognitive and physical symptoms which cluster together, are pervasive and persist for at least two weeks.
Individuals with depressive conditions usually feel depressed and sad, less so but not uncommonly irritable, angry or numb as if all their feelings have drained away. Cognitively those suffering with depression have difficulty with attention, concentration and short term memory. They also have a negative outlook. It is difficult when depressed to think positively instead thinking is constantly about topics that are gloomy, despairing and hopeless. Physically individuals feel slowed down, have impaired energy, sleep poorly or sometimes excessively, and have impaired appetite and libido. Perhaps the keystone of depression is the loss of pleasure and interest in everything.
Depression is multi factorial in cause. Factors involved could include genetic predisposition, coexisting (additional) health problems (co-morbidity), life events, personality and cognitive styles, past history of depression, lifestyle personal and social circumstances.
Simply because the incidence of depression is so high and the rates of treatment so low it is always worth asking yourself if depression could account for some of the way I have been feeling and behaving. Doing so as early as possible is very important. Recovery rates are much higher when treatment occurs earlier in the course of depression before symptoms become entrenched. Feeling short fused, not sleeping well, lacking get up and go may well be symptomatic of depression. Contact GWB for an assessment. It is easy to arrange, will result in no out of pocket cost to you and is convenient as it is community based.
If you are suffering from depression what treatments are available? There are a range GWB professional staff use. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Short Term Psychotherapies, Interpersonal Therapy, psycho-education, Mindfulness Meditation, Behavior Therapy, advise about and help with lifestyle, liaising with your GP about antidepressant medication if this is clinically indicated, advise and treatment for coexisting physical and psychological disorders.
All of these treatment methods are effective and evidence based. We will tailor a holistic treatment program with you which is best suited to getting you well as quickly as possible. We will also help you with ways to stay well and prevent relapses. This is very important because many forms of depression which are not the subject of early effective treatment tend to develop a recurrent pattern. Early effective treatment changes the natural history of depression.