People use all sorts of metaphors to describe feelings related to stress, anxiety or depression….such as the above example of “I feel like I am stuck in heavy mud”.
We all have good days and not so good days when we might feel low. Stress, anxiety and feeling down or depressed can affect anyone, and in fact happens to a lot of us at some point in our lives. However if you are feeling sad, down or anxious and these feelings have started to affect what you would normally do or enjoy, it is important to find out what’s going on and what to do and who can help.
Research shows that people often feel depressed or anxious for a long time and may seek help only when things are at crisis point – so it may have been a long time that these feelings have been impacting without you realising it. Some examples are behaviours such as withdrawing from close family and friends or relying on alcohol and sedatives, feeling overwhelmed or irritable, having thoughts such as “I’m worthless or “I’m a failure”, or experiencing sleep problems or being tired all the time.
When words like depression or anxiety are used by doctors or professionals, they are often used in the context of terms related to mental health or mental illness. Mental illness is a general term referring to illness affecting the mind – just the way that physical illness affects the body. Mental illness can affect our thinking, our emotional state, and our social abilities and can disrupt our relationships and our ability to work or carry out other activities.
Just like a physical illness – mental illness can be disabling, and research shows that having a medical illness that involves long-term management can contribute to depression through associated stress and worry. Social research into the lived experience of HIV reveals significant numbers of people interviewed had been diagnosed with anxiety (HIV futures seven, 2013).
It is important to understand the difference between the normal feelings of unhappiness, sadness or anxiety which all of us experience at various stages of life, and the symptoms of clinical depression or anxiety disorders. Want to know more about what to look for? You can check out signs and symptoms for anxiety and depression – and further information about treatments and things you can do to help at any of these websites:
Also see Part Two to this blog: Getting Help and Gaining Control!
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of suicide, please phone 000
If you are experiencing crisis and need to speak with someone right away please contact any of the following counselling services:
- Beyond Blue beyondblue.org.au 1300 224 636
- Lifeline lifeline.org.au 13 11 14
OR Attend Accident and Emergency department at your local Hospital.