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Feeling "down" or unusually tired sometimes is not unusual – this is part of life. But if nothing truly concerns you or engages your interest over a longer period, you may be experiencing depression. Treatment is available that can help alleviate depression.

What is depression?

If you are sad, depressed and have no energy every day for at least two weeks, this may be depression. Depression is an illness that changes how you think and feel.

If you have depression, it is common to become irritated easily and have difficulty concentrating. You may also have difficulty making decisions and experience anxiety and difficulty sleeping.  You may feel that existence is generally difficult and pointless.

It’s common to feel that you will never feel well again; you may even be quite sure of this. You may have thoughts that you are actually worthless and a failure, and you are worried about how people around you would react if you told them how you actually feel. It may feel as though you are trying to keep up a façade, but behind this front it may feel as though you have fallen apart.

Even though you feel so bad, you often don’t understand that you are depressed. Instead, you are sure that your thoughts about the pointlessness of everything and your suffering are “the truth” about life. Even if it may seem this way at the time, depression makes you “forget” the things in life that you actually enjoy. This is a way that depression “lies” to you.

Varying degrees of depression

An episode of depression may be mild, moderate or severe. If you have mild depression, you can usually manage daily life even though you feel bad. If you have moderate depression, daily life is more difficult to manage but you are able to accomplish the most necessary things. When depression is severe,  you can barely get out of bed. Simple things such as making telephone calls or opening the mail may seem impossible.

At these times you may have thoughts that you can’t go on living. You can’t see any end to your suffering, and you are sure that you are the only one who feels as you do. You may also get the idea that it would be better for the people closest to you if you were gone. If you feel this bad, you should not be alone — seek help immediately.

Help is available

You should seek treatment if you believe that you are experiencing depression. You can find clinics by calling 1177. If you are still daunted by seeking treatment, have someone else contact the healthcare system for you. If you feel so bad that you are thinking of taking your life, don’t wait — seek care immediately at a psychiatric emergency ward or call 112.

What type of help is available, and what can I do on my own?

It can be difficult to manage to take care of yourself when you are experiencing depression. It’s important to eat and sleep, no matter how difficult it is. Try to get outside every day, even if you only walk around the block. It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol even if it makes you feel better temporarily.

Talking with someone, writing or listening to music may be ways to feel better, or at least less bad. Depression usually passes, but it may return.

It’s important not to stop treatment for depression prematurely, even if you feel much better.

You are not alone

Many people have experienced depression and recovered. Depression is one of the most common reasons for sick leave today. Being on sick leave is not a sign of weakness or failure, quite the opposite. It’s a way to give yourself a chance to feel better.