Let’s talk about depression

Depression that requires medication and psychological therapy is a serious medical condition that is, unfortunately, often over-diagnosed. We often use the word ‘depression’ as a general term to describe a life that is not happy.

Every life has its ups and downs. There’s no such thing as a purely happy life. Problems start when the sad moments become too dominant, too deep or too intrusive. If this is happening then it’s time to seek help.

Sometimes, all that’s required is a few conversations with a GP or a psychologist to put things in perspective. Other cases may require medication or intensive therapy.

Depression vs ‘burn-out’

Of course, there are people who are truly depressed. However, many people are just burnt out and don’t like their life. They are overworked, overstressed and over-stretched. Parents of young families are often in this situation. Mothers and fathers are not sleeping because they have young kids. They spend all their time running the family while maintaining full-time jobs.

People are less happy when life does not live up to their expectations. A lot of the time, a good counselling session with a GP or psychologist can put things into perspective. This can empower people to see that they have control over many aspects of their life. They can actually make a change themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, depression is a very serious condition and is too prevalent across all levels of society. In our practice, we help people by talking. We can assist them financially by organising a mental health care plan where they can see a psychologist six to ten times each year. We can prescribe medication, if needed.

Serious mental health issues

There are relatively few cases where the problem is so severe that we refer a patient to a psychiatric consultation. Even then, we stay involved and keep up regular contact after specialists have stabilised the condition. Your GP can help you manage conditions such as schizophrenia, chronic depression or bipolar disorder once you are stabilised.

Often with psychology or psychiatry, the key is change. However, many people are embarrassed or ashamed to open up. They believe that to show emotion is to show weakness — a very common trait of Australian men. Due to this, they wait too long to seek help. It’s a real shame because far from being a weakness, it’s actually a very strong statement to try and understand yourself.

The importance of family

When someone suffers from depression, their family, partner and friends are very important. These are the people who make them feel safe and with whom they can open up and talk. It’s also very important to have a good relationship with one or more healthcare professionals.

For some people who have anxiety or depression, they turn to cannabinoids, alcohol or other drugs in order to make life more acceptable. This is usually a case of self-medication. Their lives become bearable but very disabling because it’s very stigmatising. It’s all too easy for friends and family to think, ‘They’re an alcoholic, so therefore they’re not sick and therefore it’s their own fault.’ This is very far from the truth of the matter.

The importance of talking

The first line of defence should be communication. Family and friends can create a situation where people feel safe and can open up. It’s important to listen without judgement because often the primary action of a person with substance problems is to be defensive, aggressive and walk away.

At Main Road Medical Centre, we respect and listen and talk to our patients with depression and substance abuse issues. We don’t send them straight to a healthcare centre, alcoholics unit or detox facility.

We talk. And that’s the first step in helping people on multiple levels.

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