Recognising depression

The word 'depression' is often used to describe normal feelings of sadness.  Feeling sad, blue or down is something we all experience at different times in our lives. However, if these feelings persist for an extended period of time (i.e. more than two weeks), then it is classed as depression.

Depression is NOT a sign of personal weakness or failure.  Depression is NOT the normal grief we experience when we lose a loved one or experience a similar life event. Nor is it the normal sadness we feel when we experience everyday life stress.

1. Check yourself - Understand Symptoms of Depression

There are many symptoms of depression that  can range in intensity and severity. People with depression experience some or many of the following symptoms:

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  • Feelings of despair, sadness, hopelessness or helplessness.
  • Feelings of being unable to cope with everyday life.
  • Feelings of guilt and self blame.
  • Being teary much of the time.
  • Difficulty in enjoying activities you previously enjoyed.
  • Poor concentration, motivation and energy.
  • Overuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Withdrawing from others.
  • Negative thinking about yourself, your environment and your future.
  • Disturbances in your sleep eg can't go off to sleep or wake early unable to return to sleep, wanting to sleep more than usual.
  • Thinking of or planning suicide.
  • Changes in appetite eg over eating or loss of appetite.
  • Experiencing physical feelings of being sick, gastrointestinal problems and other aches and pains.
  • Feeling unmotivated, with impaired thinking and concentration.
  • Loss of interest in sexual activities.


2. Ways to help yourself (self-help)

If you feel that you may be experiencing minor signs of depressions and would like to try self-help methods before going to professionals, you can try some of the following activities below. Be kind to yourself and remember that it's always okay to ask for help.

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  • Try to do some exercise and eat well.  Continue to participate in your usual daily activities as much as possible
  • Schedule in one pleasant thing for you to do for yourself each day.
  • If tasks seem overwhelming, break them down into smaller manageable pieces and congratulate yourself when you complete each smaller task.
  • Respect yourself - give yourself praise when you do something well.
  • Choose to be assertive - know your rights and learn how to exercise them.
  • Learn more - useful websites include:


3. Where to seek professional help?

If you feel that you may be experiencing depression, it is always a good idea to seek professional help and/or advice. We all need a little help sometimes. Showing your feeling is not a sign of weakness or failure. It is okay to seek for help.

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See a Doctor - Your Doctor can talk to you about the depression and refer you to a Psychologist and/or possibly prescribe medication that can alleviate the symptoms of depression.

  • See a Psychologist or counsellor - Depression can respond well to therapy and usually would include educating you about the depression and exploring alternative ways for you to think, behave and to cope with everyday life stress. It can also be useful in assisting you to sort out practical problems and conflicts. Enrolled ANU students are eligible for free counselling sessions at our Counselling Centre.
  • Speak to ANU Thrive - ANU Thrive hosts weekly drop-in sessions. Peer mentors at drop-in sessions can provide tailored advice and direct you to the right service providers. 


Useful contacts

Page owner: Wellbeing