Depression is a common complaint in rural communities, however, it is a treatable condition.

Just about everyone suffers some sort of depression in his or her lifetime. The loss of a pet, the loss of a job or financial problems can lead to minor to moderate depression. Then there is the other type of depression known as clinical depression, a deep-seated state of melancholy.

Many suffers of depression decide to keep it to themselves as they feel they will be letting people down if they share it. Keeping it to yourself does no favours to either you or your family and friends. Depression is so common in the human condition that you help others de-stigmatise it by discussing it.

There are many ways you can manage depression. Consulting your GP is important as is changing your lifestyle. Finally consider finding a counsellor who can take the time to treat your depression. A qualified counsellor is trained to assist you.

Okay, how do you know if you are suffering depression and to what extent? Take a look at these following questions and mark 1 for sometimes, 2 for often and 3 for always. Let’s go.

In the past two weeks have you experienced any of these symptoms?

  • Found little interest in doing things.
  • Felt down, depressed or hopeless.
  • Had trouble getting to sleep.
  • Felt tired and little energy.
  • Felt badly about yourself, a failure or letting your family down.
  • Had trouble concentrating reading the paper or watching TV.
  • Found yourself moving or speaking slowly so that others notice.
  • Had thoughts that you would be better off dead or thoughts of hurting yourself.
  • Experienced poor appetite or overeating.

How to score

A score of 4 or below may mean you have minimal depression

  • 5 -9 may indicate mild depression
  • 10 -14 moderate depression
  • 15 -19 moderately severe depression
  • 20 -27 severe depression.

What you can do about depression

So what can you do about depression? Regular exercise, good diet, staying social and finding a meaningful activity (any work including volunteer work) have proven to be very beneficial in handling depression.

Anti-depressants provide real relief to many suffers with moderate to severe depression and give sufferers a starting point to improve mood so they feel like doing new things. Anti-depressants are not habit forming or addictive, as the myth goes, and may give great relief to many sufferers. Anti-depressants can be given as a short or long course of treatment depending on the severity of the problem. Research has shown that when counselling and anti-depressants are combined they offer a greater degree of success than just anti-depressants on their own.

Now you have completed the test above how do you rate? Can you exercise a bit more, eat better, try to stay more social and find meaningful things to do? Whatever you do, seek help from your GP, share your concerns with family and friends. There is no need to suffer from this debilitating common mental health problem on your own.

And remember people suffering depression also impact others’ mental health; so seeking help will in the end make your family and community happier. You have right to be happier and enjoying life. Life after all is such a gift.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, Australia Counselling has counsellors who specialise in the treatment of depression in locations such as Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and rural areas of Australia. Visit our depression area of practice page to find a depression counsellor or psychologist near you.