Thursday 9th September is RU OK day – a national day of action held on the second Thursday of every September. RU OK day inspires us to have conversations that count, by talking to our family, friends and community, especially if we sense they may be struggling.
The need for this national day of action is highlighted by the following facts and figures:
• On average, more than 2,300 Australians commit suicide each year.
• An estimated 65,000 people attempt suicide each year.
• Suicide is the biggest killer of Australians aged 15 to 44 years.
Depression is an underlying cause of suicide, and one which can usually be treated. We all sometimes feel sad, moody or low. However, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason.
Behavioural symptoms include not going out anymore, an inability to concentrate, not getting things done at work/school, withdrawing from close family and friends, and relying on alcohol and sedatives.
A person suffering depression may also notice a change in their feelings. They may feel overwhelmed, guilty, irritable, frustrated and lacking in confidence. Other signs and symptoms which may manifest in feelings include being unhappy, indecisive, disappointed, miserable and sad.
A person suffering from depression may also have negative thoughts about themselves. Commonly identified ones by beyond blue include:
• 'I’m a failure.'
• 'It’s my fault.'
• 'Nothing good ever happens to me.'
• 'I’m worthless.'
• 'Life’s not worth living.'
• 'People would be better off without me.'
Physically, some warning signs and symptoms are being tired all the time, being sick and run down, having headaches and muscle pains, and experiencing sleep problems. Sufferers may also notice a loss or change of appetite, and significant weight loss or weight gain.
Successful treatment usually involves more than one form of therapy – general practitioners, pharmacists, psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors may all be involved in a patient-centred and collaborative mental health care team. Medicine can also be very helpful with treatment success.
Importantly, depression is more than just a low mood – it's a serious illness that can have a significant impact on both physical and mental health.
If you suspect you, or someone you know, may have depression, talk to your pharmacist, doctor, pick up the Self Care Depression fact card or log on to www.beyondblue.org.au