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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    There is depression in my family and my mum committed suicide, does that put me at an increased risk?

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  • 1

    Thanks

    I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    I agree that the jury is out whether depression is heriditary or not. It can be found in families as seen by children as a way of coping and a learned behaviour but whether it is heriditary or learnt does not mean that you would be at higher risk if you understand the causes and what you can do as an individual to prevent or minimise the impact of depression in your life.
    Mindfulness meditation as well as breathing and relaxation techniques are very helpful at manging stress also exercise especially cardio exercise is helpful. Ensuring a good time with sufficient sleep is important and has shown to be beneficial.
    However if someone has severe depression and has experienced a low mood for over 2 weeks they need professional help and there is a definite role for professional assessment by an experienced GP, psychologist  or psychiatrist. In certain patients the role of medication would be needed to help the person and used in conjunction with psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.  

  • 1

    Thanks

    Michelle Linmore

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Sex Therapist

    Specializing in couples counselling, infertility, gay and lesbian counselling, sex therapy and relationship workshops. Based in Canberra. View Profile

    It makes sense to look after your health and mood for any person, and when you have a family history of depression it makes even more sense to keep up some of the activities that we know can be protective.

    Activities such as exercising, staying socially conmected, engaging in activities that are pleasant, meaningful and engaging to you, avoiding too much alcohol, and using helpful self talk are examples of things that might assist.  

    If you do notice yourself feeling down or dwelling on things for more than a couple of weeks it would be a good plan to talk to a GP or counsellor.  There are some great online programs these days also which can help with preventing depression -you could check out Moodgym if you are interested.

  • Jennifer Grant

    Psychologist

    New practice opened Feb 2018. Seewebsite www.coffspsychneuro.com.au I'm passionate about working with people from all walks of life to help them create a more vital, … View Profile

    The “causes” of both suicide and depression are complex, multi-faceted and poorly understood. We know that suicide occurs among people who did not have depression. We know that genes for almost anything (including mental illness) may or may not be expressed, depending on environmental factors (environmental factors include our internal as well as our external environment). We know that people can be at high risk for suicide or depression (eg because of adverse life events combined with family/ genetic factors) and live fabulously satisfying and meaningful lives. In sum, the answer to your question is that you may be. Or you may not be.
    As Michelle has said, important protective factors include social connection, physical activity, engaging in meaningful and pleasurable activities. To Michelle’s list I would add these: having someone you trust to talk with about anything, nourishing your physical self with quality wholesome food, good sleep routines, spending time in nature, being kind and compassionate in your self-talk, experiencing gratitude and appreciation of simple things. There is also evidence that regular mindfulness practice is beneficial for mental health. This could be either a daily sitting meditation or simply spending time throughout your day deliberately noticing whatever is present (in your 5 senses, your mind, your body) without judgement or evaluation.
    As well as moodgym (www.moodgym.anu.edu.au) which was designed for young people, there’s another free online interactive self-help service that aims to promote resilience and wellbeing for all Australians. myCompass is a guide to good mental health – it points you in the right direction. You can find it at www.mycompass.org.au Neither of these online programs are suitable for people who are already experiencing significant levels of depression and/or suicidal thoughts. A GP consultation is essential in these cases.
    You might find it helpful to meet with a psychologist to assess your present state of mental health and – even if there’s no apparent problems – work through ways to embed those protective factors into your daily life.
    I wish you well.
    Jennifer

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