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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the difference between sadness and clinical depression?

    I've always felt sad often for as long as I remember, but this year it has been much more extreme.

    There have been no major events to trigger it but I've been going through weeks of being extremely sad and withdrawn.

    I will stop talking to friends and going out, sleep for as long as I can, start feeling anger and hatred towards people irrationally, and I have to consciously stop myself from thinking negative thoughts . I will have a conversation with someone, but as soon as it ends my mind immediately switches back to the bad aspects of my life.

    I lost 25 kilos in 2011 but have suddenly put it all back on this year. I have a lot of trouble sleeping and constantly feel drowsy.

    I've always had low-self esteem. I cannot get uni work done ever. I feel lonely a lot.

    I turn to alcohol a lot as it makes me feel better for a while.
    I thought it may be PMS but the timing doesn't fit.
    Basically I'm not sure if it's just my personality and I'm trying to make symptoms fit, or if it could be an illness.
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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    As somebody who is in remission from clinical depression I can relate. For me being depressed was not a matter of feeling *sad*, rather it was feeling *nothing*, metaphorically curling up into a ball and hoping that the world would go away.

    I am also in remission from alcohol addiction so I can relate to that as well. I understand the urge to drink but remember that alcohol is, in a pharmacological sense, a depressant - not good for somebody who might be clinically depressed.

    A couple of suggestions which I hope will help:

    (1) Talk with your GP. S/he will be able to draw up what is called a Mental Health Care Plan with you. A MHCP will give you a number of Medicare-subsidised sessions with mental health professionals. For you seeing a psychiatrist (who can assess you and, if indicated, prescribe anti-depressant medication) as well as a clinical psychologist (who can work with you using non-pharmacological therapeutic approaches) might help.

    (2) As far as your weight gain is concerned, an Accredited Practising Dietitian is worth approaching. APDs are health professionals who can offer advice about eating in a healthy way.

    All the best.

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