Depression – the facts

Depression is a common condition which is not always identified and diagnosed and affects men, women and young people. Depression is more than feeling sad or stressed. Learn to recognise the symptoms so you seek help when you need it.

There are a range of behavioural, psychological and physical symptoms that, when experienced together for more than two weeks, may indicate you are depressed. These include:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Struggling to get things done at work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Struggling to find things you enjoy
  • Feeling overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, guilty and indecisive
  • Feelings of failure and worthlessness
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Digestive problems
  • Getting sick all the time
  • Poor sleep

It’s important to realise that we all experience some of these symptoms at some time, so seeking further support and advice is important. Your GP is a good place to start.

Particular factors and experiences in farming life can contribute to the development of depression and may also mean it goes untreated. These can include:

  • Being in the habit of ‘working it out yourself’, which makes it difficult to seek help when it’s difficult to cope.
  • Isolation and limited access to services.
  • Finding it difficult to approach local health workers because you may know them socially.
  • Practical issues to do with leaving the farm to seek help.
  • Financial, climate related and other pressures that may seem insurmountable.
  • Particularly for rural women, isolation, exhaustion and postnatal depression are some of the most common contributing factors to poor mental health.
  • Learn to recognise the symptoms so you seek help when you need it.

There are a range of strategies used to treat depression and varying types of depression respond to different treatment. including medication, psychological, physical and self-help/alternative therapies. Your GP will know more about the options.

Rural issues – alcohol and depression

There is a strong link between excessive alcohol consumption and depression. Self-medication with alcohol is a common (but unsafe and ineffective) coping strategy for farmers and other people living in rural and remote areas. Alcohol only masks the symptoms of depression and stress, and can make you feel worse. Support services can assist you to find other ways to tackle depression.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

Fast facts:

Depression – the facts

  • Depression is a common condition and it’s important to understand the symptoms.
  • If you feel you’re not coping, you’ve lost interest in things you normally enjoy, can’t sleep, don’t want to eat and can’t concentrate, you may be depressed.
  • Don’t battle on, seek help—depression is a condition which can be treated.

References used for this topic

More information:

Beyond Blue

The Conversation
What causes depression? What we know, don’t know and suspect

Beyond Blue
Men in rural and remote areas – What causes anxiety and depression in men?

Beyond Blue
Man Facts – Guide to Mind Health

Black Dog Institute
Depression Treatment

Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD)
Online courses for depression

Online assessment and treatment for depression

Clinical care:

Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD)
Resources for Clinicians

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice

Australian Psychological Association
Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Depression Across Three Age Cohorts

Medicine Today
Adult depression: a step-by-step guide to treatment

Research & reviews:

British Medical Journal (BMJ)
Clinical review: managing and preventing depression in adolescents

The Australian Journal of Rural Health
The Orange Declaration on Rural and Remote Mental Health