HCF Fit and Well : HCF Fit and Well Summer 201415
Get help If you are su ering from depression there is lots of help and information available: • Contact your doctor or local community health centre • If you require immediate help, contact either 13 11 14 (Lifeline) or 1800 55 1800 (Kids Helpline) • beyondblue national info line 1300 22 4636 and online beyondblue.org.au/get-support • blackdoginstitute.org.au • SuicideLine 1300 651 251 • ThisWayUpClinic.org • mindhealthconnect.org.au • betterhealth.vic.gov.au • mycompass.org.au • mindspot.org.au • moodgym.anu.edu.au Friends and family members should also access the above resources if they are concerned about a loved one. We all feel sad at times, especially if we have experienced loss or grief. But for around one in five Australians it is more than sadness or dejection, and it may go on for long periods of time and without any apparent reason. "Major depression, the illness, is different," explains Professor Gavin Andrews, Professor of Psychiatry at UNSW at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. "People who have major depression spend most of each day, for weeks or months, feeling sad, empty or hopeless and having no interest or pleasure in everyday activities. In addition they can feel they'll fail at anything they try to do. They may become indecisive, unable to think or concentrate on their tasks. "Lastly, some people feel that they would be better off dead or think about harming themselves. It's no wonder that depression is viewed seriously as a principal cause of disability in Australia." Fortunately, just as people can spiral down into a state of persisting sadness, they can learn how to move back up again to become, and stay, well. What's important, for ourselves and those around us, says beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman, is to recognise and act on the signs and to understand how our own social behaviour impacts on other people who might feel bad about themselves or fearful to seek help. Into the light Although community attitudes are changing significantly, Harman says there is still a stigma around mental health and mental illness that can make people reluctant to reach out for help. "We've made great strides forward, talking much more openly and candidly about depression and anxiety in particular," she says. "But we're still not there yet: there are still cultural, environmental and personal factors that prevent people from putting their hands up and seeking help." That, she says, will continue to change -- through the sheer weight of numbers. With three million Australians experiencing depression or anxiety each year, we will all have friends, family and colleagues who have been touched. "Depression doesn't discriminate in who it affects," says Harman. Reaching out The Black Dog Institute, a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression, advises that, as a general rule, people should seek professional help if feelings of depression persist for most of every day for two weeks or longer and interfere with their ability to manage daily life. Black Dog Institute Director Professor Helen Christensen says there are many different ways to help yourself or a loved one. "A visit to your local GP or community healthcare centre is a great place to start if you feel things aren't quite right. This can help to rule out underlying health problems that may be causing the depression as well as opening up access to other mental health specialists. "We do know that some people don't feel comfortable seeking face-to-face help and others are just not able to attend regular appointments. For these people we recommend accessing one of the free online ser vices that have been clinically developed for this reason." (See box at top right for resources.) There are also a number of lifestyle factors that can improve the symptoms of depression and reduce the risk of recurrence. "Simple changes such as regular exercise, improving sleep habits and reducing alcohol intake can make a significant difference," Professor Christensen says. Take action There are many steps you can take to improve your mental health: • Build relationships with family, friends, workmates and others in the community. • Confront and solve the problems that worry you by writing down the problem. Next, make a list of a number of things you could do to lessen it, choose the most practical, plan what you're going to do -- then do it. Finally, review and see what's left to resolve. • Get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, avoid excess alcohol or drugs and have regular check-ups with your doctor. • Identify and use your strengths to help others or contribute to the community. • Get involved in an activity – work, hobbies, art or sports -- that is so enjoyable you lose track of time. • Seek help if you are struggling to feel happy, cope with everyday life, find meaning or feel connected to others. THIS WAY UP Clinic ThisWayUpClinic.org is a not-for-proﬁt initiative of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney that oﬀers online courses to treat depression and anxiety. These courses have proven to be very successful, with 60 per cent of people who complete the course no longer troubled by anxiety or depression and 20 per cent showing improvement. Eligible HCF members can apply directly to the clinic for admission to a course. See hcf.com.au/thiswayupclinic/ for more information.
HCF Fit and Well Winter 2015
HCF Fit and Well Winter