Mental Health:  Depression and Anxiety What is it?

The raw statistics are staggering and appalling for a country that, by many measures, is the wealthiest and most fortunate on earth.

  • One in five Australians aged 16-85 experiences a mental illness in any year, and half of us will have a mental illness in our lifetime.
  • More than a quarter of young people aged 16 – 24 have a mental disorder
  • Mental health-related services increased to almost $6.9 billion in 2010-11,
    • an increase of about $450 million from 2009-10.

Depression is the No. 1 cause of non-fatal disability in Australia.

  • Over two million people Australia experience anxiety disorder each year.
  • 1 in 3 women
  • 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety in their lifetime.
  • Experts say that 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder

Depression – What is it?Business man pointing the text: Depression

It’s more than just a low mood it’s a serious illness.   It can happen to anyone at any age.  Depression is treatable with the help of health professionals.

Depression is the ‘feeling‘ of hopelessness. The lack of a ‘future positive possibility’ robs you of your motivation and strength.

1 million Australians live with depression each year.

Often there are many factors associated with Depression

  • Inherited disposition
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Life Stresses
  • Past trauma
  • Drugs and alcohol can play a part

What are the Warning signs?

  • Getting up later
  • Skipping meals
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Eating unhealthily
  • Having disturbed sleep
  • Feeling irritable or stressed often
  • Cancelling appointments
  • Wanting to spend a lot of time alone
  • Feeling teary
  • Feeling sad or down and losing pleasure in things for more than two weeks.

What causes Depression?

  • Life Stresses: family conflict, losses and disappointments, death, poor working conditions.
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Past bad traumas
  • Inherited genetic risk
  • High Anxiety – you can experience both depression and anxiety.

What is the chemical imbalance?

Evidence suggests that depression may be related to change in the levels or activity of certain chemicals that carry messages within the brain – particularly serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine which are the three main chemicals related to mood and motivation.

Changes to stress hormones have also been found in people with depression.

Common Misconceptions:

Can people just snap out of it?

When will they get well?

Drugs dont work and are bad for you.


Anxiety – What is it?

Most people experience anxiety but for people with an ‘anxiety disorder,’ anxious feelings are overwhelming and cannot be bought under control easily.

It is an unpleasant emotional state ranging from mild uneasiness to overwhelming and intense fear.

It’s crippling, it involves feelings of paranoia and its relentless.

Anxiety can often be associated with depression.

Anxiety is a very common condition and is very treatable.


Some symptoms are:

Hot and cold flushes, racing heart tightening of the chest, snowballing worries, panic, obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviours.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in Australia.

Factors that contribute to Anxiety:

  • Pregnancy
  • Postnatal Depression
  • Menopause
  • Carer problems
  • Violence or abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Divorce or separation or stressful life events: Changing jobs or moving house


Depression and Anxiety are treatable and manageable.

Because anxiety and depression is thought to be associated with personality, thought processes and chemical imbalance treatment and recovery require both medication and specific therapies.  It involves a bio-psycho-social approach:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Social supports

Medical Treatment: Anti-depressants

Psychological treatment:  “Talking Therapy” This can help people change negative thought and feelings and find ways to stay well.

Counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists.

Self-Care:  Sleep, exercise, regular meals, enjoyable activities

There are times when we all have problems that seem too big to sort out.  If you are feeling like this, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone.  An adult or a professional

Who can help? 

Deciding who you want to talk to is the first step

Your family GP is a really good place to start

See a counsellor to help sort through how you are feeling

How can you help someone with depression or Anxiety?

  • Listen more than talk
  • Remember it is a medical condition that requires medical treatment, you cannot stop someone’s leg from bleeding by telling it to stop.

Use open ended questions

Spend time together

Learn about depression and anxiety

Take time out to look after yourself too

Ask questions

Talk to someone

There are organisations for carers – link into community support programs

If you are fighting depression you are not alone.

Depression seems to have been the bane of many of life’s great leaders. In the Bible, Moses, Elijah, David, and Job had to deal with it. Other great leaders, Abraham Lincoln, Sigmund Freud, Sir Winston Churchill called depression his ‘black dog’, and Ernest Hemingway referred to it as ‘the artist’s reward’.

What to do?

1:  Get Medical Help

2:  Engage in Practical – Self Care

  • Elijah :  He Just had a victorious showdown with 450 prophets of Baal, heard that Jezebel wanted to kill him.  Then went and lay down under a tree and wanted to die.  God sent him angels to provide food and Elijah fell asleep.

You need to eat well and get lots of sleep

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

As we see in this text, His peace is the result of taking our anxieties to Him in prayer/meditation/journalling.

Prayer/Meditation is proven to  change the neuro-pathways in our brains creating more positive thought patterns.  When we pray things change.  We would see the world very differently if we saw it through the eyes of love instead of fear.


The same night that Jesus was taken by the high priests he said something important ,

Jn 14 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you do not be troubled in your heart or mind .

  • I am leaving you with a gift
  • Peace of mind and peace of heart
  • The peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
  • So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Peace is not the absence of bad things in this life.

Peace is the presence of something good in the midst of conflict .

Jesus last words to the disciples was:

In me you may have peace – in this world you will face trouble but do not fear, I Have overcome the world. John 16:3

The peace of God is the counter to anxiety. His peace will guard our hearts and minds if we trust him.

Some things to remember:

  • We don’t have all the answers –
  • The journey is different for each person

“As followers of Christ and as his representatives, we are called to follow his example.  We are called to reach out to suffering people, to stick with them rather than shrink away.  We are called to believe that no one is ever beyond hope, past the point where God’s grace and love apply to them.  God does not give up on people, even if they give up on themselves.  After all, we are not called to have all the answers, understand all life’s mysteries, or fix everyone’s problems.  But we are called to love.”

Amy Simpson author of Troubled Minds.


Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Emergency: 000

Suicide Helpline (Vic only): 1300 651 251

Lifeline (National): 13 1114

Women’s Information Referral Exchange: 1300 131 130

Mens Line: 1300 789 978

Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800

Parentline: 13 2289

Domestic Violence: 1800 737 732

Direct Line Drug & Alcohol: 1800 888 236

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