Connecting with others is important for our health and survival. Research tells us that feeling connected, valued and loved by others gives us a sense of security, support, purpose and happiness.
For those experiencing or living with mental illness, loneliness can be far worse as individuals can face social exclusion, stigma and discrimination. As social beings, this can affect all aspects of our wellbeing.
Our Senior Mental Health Coach explained this year’s Mental Health Month (October 2017) theme is encouraging people to connect with others.
“Good social connections not only improve our overall mental health and wellbeing, they also build our resilience.
“We live in a very different world now than we did ten years ago. The connectivity of technology provides some new unchartered challenges for mental health in our community.”
Mental Health a Growing Concern for Australians
The mental health statistics in Australia tell the story with an estimated 45 percent of people experiencing a mental health condition in their lifetime.
“In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety,” she explained.
“Anxiety, depression and suicide can affect any of us at anytime. There are different points in our lives when we can be at greater risk. For example – major life changes, trauma or loss, experiencing stress or discrimination.”
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Being aware of the early warning signs of depression in both yourself and your friends and family is a fundamental step in improving mental health in the community.
“Early connection, intervention and treatment for someone experiencing symptoms of depression can significantly impact on the outcome,” she outlined.
“Some of the key indicators of depression including feeling sad, down or miserable most of the time during the past two weeks, or having lost interest or pleasure in usual activities.”
If you have experienced those feelings along with several of the behavioural, emotional (feelings and thoughts) or physical signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories listed below – you may be depressed.
Six Behaviour Red Flags for Depression
The following red flags are some of the most common indicators that you or someone you know may be suffering from depression:
- Not going out anymore.
- Not getting things done at work/school.
- Withdrawing from close family and friends.
- Relying on alcohol and sedatives.
- Not doing usual enjoyable activities.
- Unable to concentrate.
Common Feelings When Depressed
People often report feeling a wide range of feelings when depressed including – overwhelmed; guilty; irritable; frustrated; lacking in confidence; unhappy; indecisive; disappointed; miserable; or sad.
Typical Thoughts in Depression
There are many common threads in thought patterns when someone is suffering from depression. Thoughts of failure and hopelessness are regular themes.
The following thoughts may be indicators:
- ‘I’m a failure.’
- ‘It’s my fault.’
- ‘Nothing good ever happens to me.’
- ‘I’m worthless.’
- ‘Life’s not worth living.’
- ‘People would be better off without me.’
7 Physical Symptoms of Depression
Physical wellbeing is inextricably linked with mental health. Common physical symptoms of depression include:
- Tired all the time.
- Sick and run down.
- Headaches and muscle pains.
- Churning gut.
- Sleep problems.
- Loss or change of appetite.
- Significant weight loss or gain.
It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you’re depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.
Being aware of signs and symptoms of depression provides you with a starting point of reference for a better understanding of the problem. A proper diagnosis should always be sought from a health professional.
Where to Get More Information
There are some excellent resources on the internet for learning how to start conversations and connect with people you think may be at risk of depression or to evaluate your own mental health as an initial starting block to receiving assistance.
“The Beyondblue Online Anxiety and Depression Checklist is also a great resource for people looking to understand more about how they are feeling.”
Managing Mental Health Through Wellness
Wellbeing for Life Health Coaching is an innovative HSS solution aimed at preventing the exacerbation of chronic disease through the utilisation of evidence based methodologies which target individual risk factors, and empower clients with the knowledge and skills to self-manage their condition.
Our Senior Mental Health Coach explained the program provides an excellent service for those recovering from mental health issues.
“Small lifestyle adjustments can make big changes to your overall health and wellbeing,” she said.
“Your Health Coach guides you through this process, step by step, helping you develop the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your health goals.
“This program does not replace your GP or treating specialist but supports you between visits and is fully covered by many health funds, which means no out of pocket expenses to you.
“The program can include telephone counselling and allied health professional support which may incorporate having a Dietitian or Exercise Physiologist visit in your home.
“We treat many people in their recovery plans to wellness including people recovering from depression, anxiety, work related stress, addictive behaviours and in-effective relationships.
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to self-esteem, recovery and staying well. Maintaining a positive outlook is also key in countering negative thinking patterns and long-term mental health recovery.
“Positive thinking isn’t about sticking your head in the sand or pretending everything is ok. It’s about trying to change behavioural patterns to more useful thinking on your journey to recovery. Using positive affirmations as a tool in this process has been found to be highly effective.”
Our Top Ten Positive Affirmations for Wellbeing
- My health is an investment in my life.
- I am not a burden when I ask for help and support.
- My life is full of gifts, blessings and joy.
- I am surrounded by loving, caring and supportive people.
- I can allow myself to feel my feelings, and let them pass naturally without overanalysing.
- I am responsible and accountable for my actions and choices.
- I do not worry about tomorrow when I am living for today.
- I am creating my life, not reacting to it.
- I deserve happiness.
- I wake up today with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind.