Depression – Fact Sheet for Friends, Colleagues and Managers

This fact sheet outlines the different types of depression and the treatments that may help manage this condition.

Please seek the support of your GP in diagnosing and managing any mental health condition.


There are many types of depression, and everyone experiences them a little differently. Whilst different types of depression have particular symptoms, they may also appear at different times in our life. For example, postnatal depression occurs with women around childbirth. Some examples of depression include:

MAJOR DEPRESSION (also known as clinical depression or depression)

This is when you feel down, sad and flat most days, have experienced this for more than two weeks and it interferes with your daily activities across work and social relationships and with your ability to care for yourself.

BIPOLAR DISORDER (previously called manic depression)

This involves extreme shifts in mood from emotional highs (mania) to lows (depression) that are unpredictable. When you become depressed you may feel sad, hopeless or lose interest and pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania you may feel full of energy, frustrated and irritable, have racing thoughts and talk quickly. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, judgement, and behaviour. Some people with bipolar experience multiple episodes of mood swings in a year while others experience mood swings only rarely across their lifetime.


During pregnancy, around 10% of women experience depression.  In the first three months after birth, this increases to 16%. There are specialised resources available within NSW Health to help identify and treat antenatal and postnatal depression.


SAD is quite rare in Australia since it relates to variations in light exposure across different seasons. As a result, this condition is more common in the Northern Hemisphere where winter is marked with short days and long periods of night/darkness. SAD is usually diagnosed when the same symptoms of depression are experienced over consecutive winters.


There are a range of effective treatments that can be used to treat depression. Treatments that are used to treat depression include:


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is the most effective treatment available for depression. It assists people with depression to change the patterns of thinking and behaviour that are contributing to their depression and/or preventing them from improving. By identifying these patterns and replacing them with patterns of thinking and behaviour that promote good moods and better coping mechanisms, CBT achieves consistent results. Encouraging people with depression to access online, face to face or computer-led CBT is a great way to support them.

Behaviour Therapy: This focuses on increasing the level of activity and pleasure in the life of a person with depression. Unlike CBT above, it does not focus on changing beliefs and attitudes but teaches them to be more active. This helps to reverse the patterns of avoidance and withdrawal that increase depression, replacing these with enjoyable experiences that reduce depression. Support people with depression by helping them to reconnect with activities that they once enjoyed. Maybe suggest being their “activity buddy” and accompany them on walks, going to a park or walking the dog.


There are a range of medications that doctors can prescribe to treat depression. These are called antidepressants. Whilst different antidepressants work in different ways, all act on the chemicals in the brain related to emotions and motivation. Antidepressants take time (at least 2 weeks) to work, with symptoms improving after 4-6 weeks. If you know someone who is starting on medication, it is important that you encourage them to continue to take the medications until it starts to take effect.


The health benefits of good work are shown to assist with all mental health conditions including depression. If you know or manage someone with depression, it is important that that the work you provide is protective and supports a mentally healthy workplace. An example could be rostering Jenny on a run that you know she would enjoy.


Supporting your friend/colleague/employee to stay connected with their community and with activities that they enjoy and feel safe completing, is an important part of their recovery as well as a protective factor to prevent mental illness.


Exercise and diet impact most parts of our lives and contribute to mental health. Supporting co-workers to remain active and to eat a healthy balanced diet will assist with any mental health treatment plan.


Other good links for you to review or people to talk to include:

Beyond Blue

Black Dog Institute
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, visit



If you want to talk to someone for free you can

Living with a mental health condition looks different for everyone.
Click on the profiles below to understand what experiencing mental health issues might look like in your workplace, and how to get help.