Depression and other mood disorders

What is depression?

Depression is about a person’s state of mood. When a person has depression (often called clinical depression) they feel very low in mood (sad, unhappy, or ‘down in the dumps’) and also lose interest in activities they used to gain happiness from.

It is normal for people to feel sad every once in a while, but clinical depression is very different from the occasional feeling of sadness. There are several ways clinical depression differs from the occasional feeling of sadness, they include:

  • severity (how serious it is); clinical depression usually ranges from mild to severe
  • persistence (strength of the episode)
  • duration (how long it lasts)
  • the presence of typical symptoms (see next section).

When people feel sad or ‘down’ for a long time, usually for longer than 2 weeks, they may be depressed. Depression can affect anyone at any age.

How common is depression among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Survey information from the latest Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) found that nearly one-in-three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have experienced high levels of psychological distress (which includes feelings of depression) [26817]. In the four weeks before they were interviewed; this is was almost three times the level for non-Indigenous Australians.

In 2012–13, almost one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with high/very high levels of psychological distress saw a health professional about their distress in the four weeks before interview [33151].

References

Key resources

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