Depression – Fact Sheet for Individuals

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. Once your GP/mental health professional has diagnosed you with depression they will prescribe a mental health treatment plan that is matched to your symptoms and lifestyle. If you have mild depression, simple changes to your lifestyle such as regular exercise, reconnecting with friends and family and avoiding alcohol may be enough to help your mood. For moderate to severe depression, your health professional may also recommend psychological treatments and medical treatments (such as medications).

Treatments used to treat depression include:


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Reaching out to a qualified health professional face to face, over the phone or via a computer program, is proven to assist in the treatment of depression. The following pages have links to online resources where you can chat online or by phone to a mental health practitioner.

Your GP may also prescribe a mental health plan where you can access a psychologist who can teach you to change the patterns of thinking and behaviour that are contributing to your depression and/or preventing improvement. By identifying these patterns and replacing them with patterns of thinking and behaviour that promote good moods and better coping mechanisms, CBT is one of the most effective treatments available for depression.

Behavioural Therapy: This focuses on increasing your level of activity and the pleasure in your life. Unlike CBT above, it does not focus on changing your beliefs and attitudes but teaches you how to be more active. This helps to reverse the patterns of avoidance and withdrawal that increase depression and replace these with enjoyable experiences that reduce depression.

Interpersonal Therapy: This focuses on problems in your personal relationships and helps to build skills to help you deal with the problem.


There are a range of medications that your doctor can prescribe to treat depression. These are called antidepressants. Whilst different antidepressants work in different ways, all act on chemicals in the brain related to emotions and motivation. Antidepressants take time (at least 2 weeks) to work, and you will probably start to feel your symptoms improve after 4-6 weeks. It is therefore important that you receive support when you commence medications and are waiting for them to take effect.


The health benefits of good work are shown to assist with all mental health conditions including depression. If you are experiencing a mental health condition, it is important that you advise your employer about your depression to ensure that the work they are providing is protective of you and supports a mentally healthy workplace.


Keeping yourself connected with your community and activities that you enjoy and feel safe completing is an important part of treatment and recovery as well as a protective factor to prevent mental illness.


Exercise and diet impact most parts of our lives and contribute to our mental health. Keeping yourself active and eating a healthy and balanced diet will assist any mental health treatment plan prescribed for you.

To help you understand if your symptoms are likely to be depression, Beyond Blue has a Mental Health “Check-in”. This is a 10-question survey that examines how you have felt over the past 4 weeks. The results are anonymous and will provide you with recommendations on how and what kind of support you may benefit from:

Beyond Blue – Mental health check-in


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.