~ Weekly Health Advice from PMGH – Don’t Ignore Depression – Part 1 of 3 ~

Welcome to another health update from the Port Moresby General Hospital, this week we are focusing on depression. Depression is treatable and should never be ignored. If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk to your doctor.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious condition that has an impact on both physical and mental health. While we may all feel sad, moody or down from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression can effect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, and feelings and can make it difficult to manage day to day life. While the exact cause of depression isn’t known, some things can be linked to its development. Depression usually results from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event. Research suggests that continuing difficulties such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness or prolonged work stress are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. However, recent events such as losing your job or a combination of events can ‘trigger’ depression if you’re already at risk due to personal factors and previous bad experiences. Depression can run in families, and some people will be at an increased genetic risk however this does not necessarily mean you will automatically have depression if a family member has depression. Some people may be more at risk for depression because of their personality, particularly those that worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative. Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression and should be immediately addressed with a doctor. Coping with a serious medical illness can also lead to depression either through stress/worry or dealing with long term management and/or chronic pain. It is important to remember that depression is treatable, and help is available. If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of depression, it is important to talk to your doctor.
Symptoms of Depression If you have been experiencing a feeling of being sad, down or miserable most of the time for more then two weeks or have lost interest in your usual activities or are experiencing a few of the symptoms below it is important to talk to your doctor.
Behaviour: withdrawing from family and friends, not doing normally enjoyed activities, unable to concentrate, alcohol or drug use, not completing tasks at work or school, not going out anymore.
Feelings: sad, miserable, disappointed, indecisive, unhappy, lacking confidence, frustration, irritable, overwhelmed or feelings of guilt.
Thoughts: “people would be better off without me,” “its my fault,” “life’s not worth living,” “I’m a failure,” “I’m worthless,” “nothing good ever happens to me.”
Physical: feeling tired all the time, run down or sick, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite or weight, headaches or muscle aches.
Please note: everyone experiences some of the symptoms above from time to time, it may not mean your depressed. Equally those experiencing depression may not experience all of the symptoms above. Talk to your doctor.