Depression - you are not alone

Sometimes it is easy to feel like there is no hope if you are going through a particularly difficult time. However, thankfully there is help at hand if you or someone you love is suffering from depression or anxiety.

One of the most difficult factors in seeking help for anxiety and depression is knowing what to do. It can be hard to recognise the symptoms, and even if we notice things aren’t quite right, making the decision to talk to someone about what’s going on can feel like a huge hurdle.

Three million Australians live with anxiety or depression. But the good news is that today there are more ways than ever to take charge of the situation.

So, what can you do if think that you, or someone you love, might need help?

Talk it out
You can find someone to talk to about what’s going on for you – and what you should do next – without leaving your own home.

The organisation Beyond Blue is dedicated to helping people understand depression and “empowering all Australians, at any life-stage, to seek help”.

It offers a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week phone line tel: 1300 224 626 or you can chat online to one of their helpful staff between 3pm and midnight every day. Prefer to send an email? Write here and receive a reply within 24 hours.

Beyond Blue’s website also has a list of other helpful organisations, self-diagnosis tools and even professionals who will be able to help you get back on track.

Go online
The MindSpot Clinic offers a free online assessment to help you decide whether you are suffering with anxiety and/or depression.

Developed with the Centre for Emotional Health at Sydney’s Macquarie University, the comprehensive assessment takes about 15 minutes, after which you’ll receive a report summarising your symptoms and pointing you in the right direction for help.

You can follow this up with free online treatment course, or the clinic will help you find local face-to-face help if that’s what you’d prefer. You can also call the clinic for information on tel: 1800 614 434.

Find a support coach
If you live in Canberra, Adelaide or on the north coast of New South Wales, you can take part in a free trial, which offers you a coach who’ll guide you through a tailored program to get back on track to mental wellbeing.

Set up by BeyondBlue and using coaches trained at Adelaide’s Flinders University, the New Access program offers six free phone or face-to-face sessions focused on practical goals and steps you can take to help you move forward.

It is aimed at people experiencing a number of difficulties including work stress, financial worries, health concerns and long-term isolation or loneliness. And the best part is that, by helping yourself, you’ll also be helping others. The trial will be evaluated in 2016 with a view to rolling it out more widely.

Here’s how a couple of the people in the trial have found it so far:

John says, “With each successive meeting I felt more confident in myself to be able to overcome my attitude towards each problem I faced.”

Meanwhile, another participant Kate says, “After only five weeks, my breathing troubles, low mood and overall peaks of anxiety have dulled to almost non-existent. I’m truly a happier person and my life is much more fulfilled.

Get a referral
A visit to your GP could be just the tonic you need, because you could be entitled to see a Medicare-funded professional for face-to-face counselling.

Your doctor will first have to assess you as being eligible, according to your symptoms, but if you are you’ll be referred to see a clinical psychologist for up to six sessions, with a further four sessions during the year if deemed necessary.

In some cases, Medicare will cover the full cost and in others (depending on how much the psychologist charges) you may need to pay a gap fee.

Talking through your situation and problems with a qualified professional, who can offer feedback and strategies to help you take action, could make all the difference, so see your doctor for more information.

Try ‘man therapy’
It’s a fact that men are less likely than women to seek help for any health condition, and this is especially true for depression and anxiety. That’s why Beyond Blue has created Man Therapy, a website fronted by cheeky chappy Davo, who describes it as an “essential ripper resource for blokes of all kinds”.

“If you feel like a tonne of wet concrete is starting to set around you, then take the Mind Quiz now. It only takes a couple of minutes and it may just enlighten you like a MIG welder,” Davo says.

Another service specifically for men is The Shed Online, which has discussion forums, articles, an events list and local ‘sheds’ you can join wherever you live to help you connect with other guys, talk things through and reduce isolation.

Train your mind
Mood Gym is an online program that will help you learn skills to cope with anxiety and depression. Put together by the Australian National University in Canberra, it uses the techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal theory that train your thinking and encourage you to look at life differently.

The ANU has also put together eCouch, based on the same therapies and providing evidence-based information and strategies, as well as offering recommendations for forms of relaxation and physical activity that help with anxiety and depression.

Finally, MyCompass is another online program (developed by the Black Dog Institute) that you can use to track your moods and learn techniques to manage them better, build your coping mechanisms and improve your wellbeing.

With all these resources at your fingertips, there’s no need to feel you don’t have anyone to turn to. Hit the keyboard, pick up the phone or make an appointment – whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence.

Have you or someone you love been through a difficult time and sought help? Join our conversation below….