Wednesday 9 June 2021
Dr Daniel Gileppa, a mental health expert and psychiatrist at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, explains what depression is and how it affects your body. He also talks about the signs and symptoms of depression and the best ways to look after your mental wellbeing. Kasey, a Queensland woman, talks about her lived experience with depression
My Amazing Body is a podcast where we explore interesting, unknown and misunderstood parts of your body with help from medical experts and stories from real Queenslanders. Join us for our special five-part series focused specifically on mental health and wellbeing.
In Australia, it's estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and in any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression. In this episode we explore depression. What is depression? Who does it affect and what does it do to your body?
Dr Daniel Gileppa, a mental health expert and psychiatrist at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, explains what depression is and how it affects your body. He also talks about the signs and symptoms of depression and the best ways to look after your mental wellbeing. Kasey, a Queensland woman, talks about her lived experience with depression
Meet our Guests
“To self-recognize is important, but not to self-diagnose. If you find that you're not functioning, and you think you might have depression, it’s really important to see a GP or a psychologist or another mental health professional for a formal diagnosis.”
“There is definitely no weakness in depression at all, but there is massive strength in stepping up and talking about it.”
Episode Material and Support
If you or someone you know need support, book an appointment to see your GP and talk to them or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, and if it’s an emergency, please call 000 immediately.
Queensland Health Help lines, counselling and support groups – Including 1300 MH CALL (1300 642255) a confidential mental health telephone triage service that provides the first point of contact to public mental health services to Queenslanders.
LifeLine - a national charity who provide all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Queensland Health Dear Mind website. - Taking some ‘me time’ is important. And it also helps strengthen your mental wellbeing. Having a healthy sense of mental wellbeing has many benefits. It lifts your mood, promotes resilience in difficult situations and helps you get the most out of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or how you’re feeling – taking a few moments for yourself each day will help you be a happier and more resilient you.
Beyond Blue - provides information and support to help everyone in Australia to achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
Dr Gileppa: Each person has hundreds of billions of brain cells; they're all joined together in a very complicated way by hundreds of trillions of connections. And in between those tiny connections are absolutely minuscule amounts of chemicals called neurotransmitters, and they help to send or block information from one brain cell to another. It's extremely difficult to map out and measure these things … it would be like trying to track a piece of dust in a cyclone.
Host: Welcome to season three of My Amazing Body - a podcast where we explore interesting, unknown and misunderstood parts of your body. This is episode two of our special five-part series, focused specifically on mental health and wellbeing.
This episode contains a firsthand account of what it’s like to experience depression.
It references suicide and self-harm. If you or someone you know need support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, and if it’s an emergency, please call 000 immediately.
In Australia, it's estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and in any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression. In this episode we explore depression. What is depression? Who does it affect? And what does it do to your body?
Dr Gileppa, a mental health expert and psychiatrist at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, explained that depression is a symptom rather than a condition in itself.
Dr Gileppa: The word depression means different things to different people. In general terms, depression is shorthand for a depression of mood - meaning a low or sad or unpleasant mood. Depression - a symptom - is not a condition itself, but it might indicate the presence of a mental health condition such as major depressive disorder or bipolar affective disorder. Just because a person’s got a depressed mood doesn't mean they necessarily have a mental health condition, and it depends on a lot of factors like how long they've had the low mood, whether there are other symptoms, the persistence of the symptoms, and impairments to social functioning, occupational functioning, that sort of thing.
Host: Dr Gileppa says it's normal to have a low mood from time to time and that sadness can often serve a purpose. It's when these feelings are prolonged or constant that they can sometimes indicate a mental health condition.
Dr Gileppa: Sadness and tears often serve a purpose - for example to relieve an intense emotional state or to communicate our internal state to other people. If you think about when we're grieving over the death of somebody, for example, who was close to us, that shared experience of sadness is meaningful, and it's important from a social perspective. And also, having an outlet for those intense feelings can help us to overcome grief and loss.
What's not normal is when the depression is very prolonged, or when it's constant, or when you start talking or behaving in a way that people find bizarre or very abnormal, when it has a negative impact on your ability to function at work or at home for a protracted period of time, that kind of thing. Having a day here and there, not so much a mental health condition. If it's every day for a period of time … could be a mental health condition.
Host: Experts still don’t know exactly what causes depression. A bout of depression may come about after a life-changing event, or it can be linked to personality, family history, or drug and alcohol abuse.
Dr Gileppa: And it's really important to emphasize that there are some substances that can either cause or masquerade as a mental health condition. The most common one we see is alcohol, but there's others like cannabis, amphetamines, opioids … even caffeine, though that's more commonly associated with anxiety disorders. There's sometimes an idea that these substances are being used to self-medicate. I don't really like that term, because firstly, there isn't really any evidence that they effectively cure or treat depression, and secondly, there's a lot of evidence that they make depression worse. All those substances, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, they all work on the reward centre of the brain, so they give us the feeling or the impression that they're helping, but really, that's an illusion, a very powerful illusion.
Host: Sadness, guilt and loss of hope can all be signs of depression, but Dr Gileppa says that symptoms can vary from person to person.
Dr Gileppa: Every person is different, every person's physical and psychological makeup is different, and so the way depression manifests is different from person to person, which is why we take an individualized approach, it's not a one-size-fits-all situation. Some of the symptoms are sadness, anxiety, irritability, apathy, guilt, and loss of hope, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, social isolation, excessive crying, irritability, restlessness, thoughts going over and over and over, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of suicide, problems with sleep.
Host: It's thought that the human brain has many billions of brain cells, so what actually happens to your brain when you are experiencing depression? Is it all about the chemicals?
Dr Gileppa: Each person has hundreds of billions of brain cells, which we call neurons. They're all joined together in a very complicated way by hundreds of trillions of connections, which we call synapses. And in between those tiny connections are absolutely minuscule amounts of chemicals called neurotransmitters, and they help to send or block information from one brain cell to another.
As you can appreciate, it's extremely difficult to map out and measure these things, particularly in living creatures, let alone making sense of it all. Billions of cells, trillions of connections - it would be like trying to track a piece of dust in a cyclone. So, we mostly have to rely on hypotheses, testing these hypotheses, and updating our understanding as new information becomes available.
We used to think that depression was due to some sort of chemical imbalance, and specifically that there was a lack of a neurotransmitter, serotonin, which is a natural chemical in the brain that's thought to heavily influence things like mood and appetite and sleep. This hypothesis was largely based on the fact that certain people with depression improved when given medications that increase their levels of natural serotonin floating around between the brain cells.
More recently, though, there's been studies that have suggested that, actually, it's probably more likely to do with the growth or shrinkage of brain cells in certain parts of the brain and their connections. There are parts of the brain called the amygdala, thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus. These are areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, fear, joy, anger, appetite, thinking, and learning, and that sort of thing. And they think that probably growth or shrinkage in those areas (has) something to do with depression.
Host: We all have bad days, low moods, and times when we may not feel quite like ourselves. But what should we do if we think we have depression? Dr Gileppa says that communication is key.
Dr Gileppa: Talk to somebody. Talk to a friend or a family member or somebody you trust. And just as a first port of call. Remember that a lot of people don't understand depression, and a lot of people are scared of depression, and that's not their fault, it's just something different, and people often are a bit afraid of something that's different. And sometimes, when you talk to somebody about your depression, they might say things that are unhelpful or that seem really insensitive. They might say things like, "Come on, mate, just harden up," or, "Oh yeah, I feel depressed sometimes, and that's life, and you just need to get over it." Or they might start to panic, or they might cry, or try to change the subject. I guess it's important to remember they don't mean to be dismissive or insensitive. They think they're making an effort and being helpful; they just are doing it in the way they best know how.
If they're not being helpful, you can just let them know in a polite way, you know, saying something like, "I know you're trying to be helpful, and I appreciate it, but I can't just get over it. I've been able to get over feeling down in the past, but this time I can't. I need your help. Can you help me?"
The next thing to do is talk with an expert about what steps to take from here. GPs - general practitioners - are absolute masters at depression and anxiety. They see it all the time, so that often is a person's first professional port of call. And there are also phone services like Lifeline, which is 13 11 14, and the Mental Health Call, that's 1300 64 2255.
Host: Some people find it hard to talk to their doctor or healthcare professional about mental health because they're worried they'll be judged. But Dr Gileppa says for a diagnosis to be made and the right treatment put in place, your doctor will need all the information. It will help them make a judgement, but they won't be judgemental.
Dr Gileppa: GPs and other health professionals have seen a lot of people with depression. They're usually able to make a firm diagnosis. Having said that, every person is different, and the way that depression manifests is different from person to person, so somebody might initially be diagnosed with, say, major depression, but that diagnosis might change over time as new information comes to light. This happens in all areas of medicine, but mental health in particular, because there aren't any scans or blood tests that say, "Yes, this person is having a major depressive episode right now."
One of the reasons a doctor might order blood tests or a head scan if they think you have depression is to rule out other causes of depressed mood. There are some medical conditions like low iron, or low B12, low vitamin D, sometimes thyroid problems, other hormonal problems, that can masquerade as mental health conditions. And if these tests find a problem, then you'll go down a different treatment pathway. So, if you have a low B12, you probably don't need a psychologist, you probably need a B12 injection. And there's also some physical conditions that can worsen depression. Actually, almost any physical condition can worsen depression, but some of the examples that we see kind of more commonly are persistent pain, diabetes, things like even Parkinson's disease, but really almost anything.
Host: Just like people will have different symptoms the treatment of depression is different from person to person. There is no one method that helps every person. But depression can be treated.
Dr Gileppa: Well the majority of people who experience a major depressive episode will get better from their depression. Some will get better without any treatment, but most of them will need some kind of treatment. And when I say treatment, I mean maybe a medication, or maybe psychological therapy, maybe some self-directed or some self-guided, activities, maybe a combination of those. If a person has had one episode of major depression, they're more likely to have another episode compared with the general population, but they might never have another episode. It depends on what else is happening in their life, what techniques they've learned, what medication they take, et cetera.
A small percentage of people with depression find that their symptoms never go away entirely. They might have some good days and some bad days, but they always have a certain level of depression or feeling not great. And this is something you see in other areas of medicine too, people with diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, or persistent pain. It's not fair, but sometimes it does happen that, despite trying medicine, and psychological therapy, and self-guided activities, and having social support, even though all those things have lined up, still there's a degree of depression. But, as I say, for the majority of people who experience a major depressive episode, they will get better from their depression. So, for the vast majority of people, depression is not forever.
Host: Dr Gileppa says there are passive and active treatments for depression, these include medical or psychological.
Dr Gileppa: Passive treatments are the ones that happen to the person. Most of the work is done by the treatment. These are things like medication, like antidepressants, containment in hospital, electroconvulsive therapy or ECT - used to be called shock therapy. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is one of the newer ones. These are treatments that are useful for a certain subset of people with depression, but there are a lot of people, including people who are suffering the most for the longest period of time, where the passive treatments alone might not work.
The active psychological therapies, psychiatric therapies, include psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is where you talk with a psychologist, and there's a bit of an idea that you just talk and talking gets it out. That's more counselling. Psychological therapies are where the psychologist will observe a pattern of thinking, or observe a pattern of behaviour, and will make suggestions in terms of ... or give homework, give you things to do at home, and suggest techniques that you might practise and learn and get really good at implementing so that your depression gets better.
You can see a psychologist in person, or you can see one online nowadays. And also nowadays, there are some very high-quality, evidence-based self-guided therapies that are available online.
Kasey: My name is Kasey Rainbow. I am an artist-slash-designer who lives on Brisbane’s Bayside. I have suffered from depression since I was probably about 18 years old and have been on medication for it on and off since then.
Host: We spoke with Queensland artist Kasey Rainbow about her lived experience with depression. She shares what it’s like to be diagnosed at the age of 18. Just a warning: Kasey’s story references suicide and self-harm. If you or someone you know need support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or if it's an emergency call triple zero immediately.
Kasey: When I was around 18, I had not a great adolescent period I guess you could call it. I did go through a lot of bullying in high school, I had an eating disorder, there was a lot of things that probably played a part in triggering depression for me. I have always been a sensitive, emotional type person. So, it wasn't rare for me to have a day where I just didn't want to get out of bed, or would cry a lot, but when I was around 18, I started to think that it probably wasn't normal for me to be having them so often.
It was around then that I actually went to a GP to discuss how I was feeling. I think it was my family GP that I saw then, and he agreed that it probably wasn't quite normal for me to be having so many days that I was feeling so down and that's when we first started me on a script for antidepressant medication. It was a long time ago now, so I can't actually remember what one it was, but I do remember that it did start working and that's when I realized that I needed medication to kind of live a semi-normal life I guess you could call it.
Host: Kasey says a relationship breakdown at the time had a big impact on her, and while she doesn't remember a lot of the details, she does recall the strong feeling of not wanting to get out of bed.
Kasey: I was with a partner at that time who - he was fine - nothing happened there, but it just … because that relationship I think ended in heartbreak for me, I personally have blocked a lot of that time out in my mind, because I just don't like going back there and thinking about it, and I was with him when I started on medication and everything. So, it's really, that time for me is very fuzzy and I can't really recall a lot of it. I do know that for me, just the feeling of just wanting to stay in bed and just not have to deal with life was, has and is to this day still my biggest, probably my biggest symptom.
I know that it's going to be a bad day if I wake up in the morning and just think, "Oh, I just want to stay here all day." Obviously, I can't do that now because I'm a mum and I have a daughter who needs my … I need to look after her. So that is obviously a big kick in the butt to get out of bed, which is a blessing sometimes but also sometimes makes it really hard.
Host: In her early 20's Kasey really struggled with her diagnosis and the stigma associated with depression.
Kasey: To be honest, it has definitely been something that I have struggled with. Especially when I was younger in my early twenties. Even back then, there was still quite a stigma around depression, and to me, admitting that I had it, felt like a weakness. So, I would very much hide the fact that I was on medication and wouldn't talk about it to anyone. Obviously, the people closest to me knew, my mum and my boyfriend at the time, they were both aware of what was going on. Just to go back to the symptoms and things like that that were happening, I had the episodes of not being able to get out of bed, but I did go through really bad patches as well. One, which was when I was younger was I did actually self-harm.
So that was something that I tried to hide but was a little bit difficult at times depending on where I decided to do it. And I also suffered from a really bad eating disorder, bulimia, for probably the better part of five years plus. So those sorts of things, it's such a hard thing to admit that you have, and it spawns into these other things that can just end up spiralling because you're not talking about it to anyone and you just continually have these thoughts in your head, which you don't … I wasn't seeing a counsellor or a psychologist or anything at that time. So, I literally was trying to deal with it all on my own, which as a late teenager, early twenties something, that's a really, really heavy subject to deal with by yourself.
Host: In 2015, Kasey had a daughter, and it was this life changing event that lead her to seek help with her GP and accept her diagnosis.
Kasey: I really rode this roller coaster throughout all of my twenties. The biggest triggering thing for me was when I had my daughter. I had her in 2015 and because I knew that I had this previous history with depression, I had this suspicion that I was going to get postnatal depression on top of that.
I remember when my daughter, Darcy, was about three months old, the definitive moment for me, I can still remember it clear as day, was I woke up one morning to her crying and my husband had already gone to work, and I woke up and I could hear her and I just remember thinking, "What would happen if I just didn't get up? If I just stayed in bed, went to sleep, what would actually happen to her and to me?" And it really scared me having that thought and just feeling like I couldn't get up to even handle or give my daughter a hug. I just didn't want to deal with life. I just wanted to stay in bed and not have to worry about it. And I did get up. I got up and I gave her a big cuddle and I had a big cry and it was at that moment that I knew I needed to go to someone and talk about it in more depth and accept that this was something that I really had to deal with because it wasn't just me now that I had to take into account.
I had this beautiful little girl that I had to look after and make sure that she ... there's no way that I could ever have let something happen to her and knowing that I was having those thoughts, this is really, really scary. So that for me definitely was the definitive moment that I went and booked in with my GP and just cried to her for hours. And from there we made all the next steps to going through my recovery process and really nutting it out and working out what I needed to do.
Host: Although Kasey has a great network of support, having depression has impacted her personal and professional relationships.
Kasey: it definitely does take its toll on relationships, while it can, but I am very, very lucky in that I have an incredibly supportive network around me. Obviously, my husband is amazing. We've been together 17 years now, so he knows everything about me really and he'll just check in with me and if I say, “Oh you know, it's not a good day," he knows exactly what that means and he knows that when he comes home from work I might be a bit quieter, I might be a bit more just flatter, not have that same bubbly happiness to me. But he knows it will always pass and so many times he's asked me, he's like, "What can I do? What?" Men very quickly just want to fix problems and that's one of the hardest things is that it's not something that can just be fixed.
So many times he'll just be like, "What can I do? What do you need me to do to fix it?" And I'm like, "You can't. All I need is just to have you here to just give me a hug if I need it and to just let me feel what I'm feeling and just let me be." For me, the days pass. The bad days will always pass. So, I really just need people to accept that some days that's what I'm going to be like.
In terms of friendships and stuff, it can be tricky because there's been days where I might've pre-arranged to meet up with a friend, but I will wake up that morning and just know that I can't cope with life that day. So, I will, a lot of times I cancel on friends, which I always feel awful about … but I think and I hope that they know that it's not ever a personal thing, it's always me. But it does make it tricky, because it hinders normal life. Some days it doesn't, some days it's fine and you can easily manage, but there are other days where it all, it can take its toll on everyday life. When I was working for someone else - I'm lucky enough now that I work for myself so I can take mental health days whenever I need - but when I was working for an employer, that was really hard because mental health days I believe, it's something that really do need to be a thing - like a sick day. I would have days where I just couldn't go into the office and I knew that I wasn't going to be productive that day. I knew that I wasn't going to be … I would be more of a hindrance to the team than I would be a help.
I always felt that my relationship with my workplaces and employer was probably always the one that was the hardest because I have been so lucky to have really great support outside of work. But again, in saying that, I always had really lovely employers as well and again, especially over the last five years or so since my daughter was born, I have been a lot more open about it and I did feel more comfortable in saying to employers if I was having a really rough time, just so they could be aware because I didn't want them to think that if I was at work and just, people can tell if I'm not in a good place. So, I didn't want them to think that I was hating my job or anything, I just wanted them to know what was happening in my life and that I was working through it and I just needed that support.
Host: For Kasey medication is the key to managing her depression.
Kasey: The biggest management tool for me now that I've accepted it, is medication. I need to take my medication every day because if I miss a day, I can tell. I have my medication in the morning and if for some reason I forget it one morning, by that afternoon I can tell that I'm not going to have a good night. It can then sometimes play on to the next day and I might be feeling worse the next day as well. So, for me, medication is definitely my number one management tool. I've definitely come to terms with it and know that it's just something that I need now, just like someone who has any form of illness really. Someone who has a headache knows that they need to take a Panadol or something to help them. I know that I need this medication to help me. It's not something that I feel ashamed of anymore, it's just something that I know that I need for my brain and my body to function the way that I need it to.
Host: Kasey says that exercise and being outdoors is important for her mental wellbeing, but she still finds it tough some days to put on the shoes.
Kasey: Things like exercise and just getting outdoors and those sorts of things, I know how important they are. But sometimes it's really hard to implement them, especially when you're just feeling … it's the last thing you feel like doing sometimes. But I know how important it is, it's just getting to that, sometimes putting a pair of shoes on and walking out the door can feel like a really, really big task.
Lots of things that I know that I need to improve on myself. I haven't spoken to a psychologist, probably for the last couple of years. I did have a really good one while I was going through my really bad patch of postnatal depression. I had an amazing psychologist, but she stopped practicing so, unfortunately, I stopped seeing her, but I am actually in the process now of trying to find a new one because I also believe that just speaking to someone outside of your direct inner circle is really important. Even for people who don't suffer from mental illness, I personally think that every single person would benefit from talking to someone, whether it's a counsellor or a psychologist or whoever. It just helps you offload all this stuff that's in your mind that you might not want to offload onto loved ones or burden them with the things that are in your mind.
Host: As an artist, Kasey says that her work is a form of therapy, but it's when she is creating art for herself that she can really express the darkness she feels, which helps her process it.
Kasey: My art is like a therapy to me. So, I will have days - I'm lucky enough in that I get to do what I love every single day - but even then if I'm working on client projects and whatnot, it's the creating for myself that is the biggest thing for me. So, I might have days where I've just been flat out working on client projects all day and then I just feel like I need to do something for me. So, I will spend, it might only even be 10, 15 minutes, but just drawing something or painting or something that is purely just for me, that is always such a lifesaver for me. As well, I am very known for my colourful, bright art and design that I do and for me that is a way of just dealing with the darkness I think that I have suffered from for the last, 15 odd years of longer even of darkness that I have felt within myself.
I feel like now I'm able to actually start letting some of that out and the way that I'm letting it out is through colour. It just seems the right way for me. That probably sounds incredibly lame, but it's the truth. Surrounding myself with colour is the way that I get through some of the darkest days that I have.
Host: The one message Kasey hopes to share is that speaking up and talking about how you are feeling is not a weakness but in fact a strength.
Kasey: I feel like I have spoken so much about just to speak up and to talk about how you're feeling is so, so important. But the main thing that I want people to know and to get across is that depression is not a weakness, it's not something that you should feel ashamed of. So many days I felt so weak because of it, because I had it, … when in reality, depression actually makes you stronger because the stuff that you have to deal with internally and everything, it is, it's like a battle with yourself, sometimes every day. And there is definitely no weakness in depression at all, but there is massive strength in stepping up and talking about it.
Host: If this story has brought up any feelings for you, you can talk to someone at Lifeline on 13 11 14 and if it’s an emergency, please call 000 immediately.
Keeping your mind engaged with new ideas and experiences is an important part of your mental wellbeing. Doing regular mental challenges helps train your mental pathways. Let's give it a go, can you solve this brain teaser? We'll reveal the answer at the end of the episode.
I'm as small as an ant, as big as a whale. I'll approach like a breeze but can come like a gale.
By some I get hit, but all have shown fear. I'll dance to the music, though I can't hear.
Of names I have many, of names I have one. I'm as slow as a snail, but from me you can't run. What am I?
One in seven Australians will experience depression in their lifetime. So, chances are you may know someone who has been clinically diagnosed with depression. Or maybe you've notice that something isn’t right with a friend or loved one. So, what can you do to support someone experiencing depression?
Dr Gileppa: The first step is to recognize that something isn't right, to see that and to acknowledge that. It's natural for families to be in a little bit of denial about a family member or friend who has a mental health condition. And also, there's a tendency, completely understandably, to protect that person from the stigma that's associated with mental health conditions. But recognizing it is really important.
Then having that conversation with the person that you're concerned about, that you think might have a mental health condition, is really important. And just being there, being there with them, talking with them about it in a non-judgmental way, finding a good place to talk with them about it - like a bar is probably not the best place. Probably in a house where you don't have other distractions around, where there aren't people running around, kids running around.
And the next thing to do is to really acknowledge the impact of the depression on that person's life, or the mental health condition on that person's life, and to support them to see a health professional - if they're ready to. Forcing somebody to is, in some situations, it's necessary, but in most situations, and certainly, particularly the thinking in recent years is, it really is a lot better to convince the person to seek help themselves, so that they are driving it, so that they are in control of their diagnosis, they are in control of their treatment.
Host: Kasey says that living with or supporting someone with depression can be hard and wants people to make sure they also get support.
Kasey: That's another thing that I'm really passionate about, bringing some light onto is that people know that it is heavy living with a mental illness and stuff, but the other thing that people don't realize that it's really heavy living with someone who suffers from a mental illness, because you are their safe person, you're the person that they come to when they're feeling all those feelings - and there's a lot of them - and it can be a lot to take on board.
And there needs to be more support for the support people, as well, because they go through a lot of stuff. I know my poor husband has definitely had his days, where I don't know how he's dealt with me to be honest because it's - I'm a roller coaster so living with me is a roller coaster - and it's hard for everyone. But the more that it's openly talked about and the more that the person with the mental illness and the people who are supporting them talk about it to each other, it's only going to be better.
Host: If you think you may be suffering from depression, book an appointment to see your GP and talk to them.
Beyond Blue also has a depression checklist that can provide a useful starting point for assessing whether or not you need help.
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing depression, the best thing to do is to sit and talk to them. We’ve provided resources in our show notes.
The most important thing to remember is that depression is treatable and with the right plan and support, most people can experience a full recovery.
Whether or not you're suffering from a mental health condition like a depressive disorder taking care of your mental wellbeing is important for us all. Developing good mental wellbeing is as simple as being active, eating healthy and staying social. Dr Gileppa says taking care of your mental wellbeing will help you be the best version of yourself and can help to protect against certain kinds of mental health conditions.
Dr Gileppa: The things we can do are look after our physical state - so to eat well, to ensure that we have - you know, you don't have to be obsessional about it, and in fact, don't be obsessional about it - but try to make an effort to ensure adequate nutrition. Be active. Again, don't have to be running marathons. You can if you like, that's all right, but you don't have to. Just some activity is good. People are often put off physical activity or eating well because they think they have to be the absolute best at it, and so they never start, because they think, "Oh, well, jeez, that's such a huge task. I'll not be able to do that." But really, it's about getting some exercise, eating well for a part of the time at least, and getting enough sleep as well - so important. If we sleep well, we think well and we feel well.
Another thing we can do is to make and to maintain social connections. Social connectedness is really important. The best gauge that we have of who we are as a person is how that's reflected to us by others. And that can be really helpful in terms of self-improvement, but it can be also really helpful in terms of our sense of self and our feelings of positive self-regard.
Host: Improving your mental wellbeing isn't hard and can be achieved by making small changes - like going for a short walk, calling a friend for a chat or learning something new - which you've done just now by listening to our podcast.
If you'd like to know more about your mental wellbeing and simple activities that you can add to your daily routine to help strengthen your wellbeing head to qld.gov.au/mentalwellbeing. You'll find the link in our show notes.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of My Amazing Body - Mental Health and Wellbeing. If you enjoyed it, don't forget to leave us a rating or review in your podcast app!
Did you guess this episode's brain teaser? I'm as slow as a snail, but from me you can't run? The answer is a shadow. Congratulations if you figured it out!
Thank you to Dr Gileppa and the team at the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service for lending their time and expertise to this episode. And thanks to Kasey, for sharing her lived experience with depression. My Amazing Body is brought to you by Queensland Health. Thanks to my podcast colleagues: producer Jess, Carol our audio technician and Helen on music and sound effects.