Depression, anxiety and stress

Depression, anxiety and stress are common in the Australian population. Whilst it is normal to feel sad some of the time, or anxious about something, or stressed when overloaded, when the symptoms affect your daily functioning, treatment is called for. It is important to have your symptoms checked by a GP as early as possible so that you are not at risk, and to seek professional help.

Thought for the Week

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Socrates

Depression, anxiety and stress are common. A man sleeps whilst sitting at a desk with his head resting on folded arms.

Sleeping is no treatment for depression

What is depression, anxiety and stress?

Depression, anxiety and stress are common amongst the Australian population. Depression has typical symptoms of depressed mood and loss of interest in pleasurable activities over a period of at least two weeks, reduced energy, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Anxiety is characterized by physical feelings of tension, difficulty breathing, distress, or nervousness and a fear of threatening situations. If the symptoms are at an intense level they may indicate a mental health disorder (illness).

Stress has been linked to both depression and anxiety as well as being a symptom that all people experience on varying levels.

People with anxiety and depression often have problems with substance abuse (harmful use and/or dependence on alcohol and/or drugs).

How common is anxiety?

It is normal to feel anxious some of the time, but with an anxiety disorder people can feel anxious and worried a lot of the time and sometimes for no apparent reason.

In 2007, 45% of Australians aged 16−85 years (or 7.3 million people) had, at some point in their lifetime, experienced at least one anxiety, mood or substance abuse disorder. In that year, anxiety disorders were the most common of these three, affecting affecting 14% of all people aged 16−85 years in the preceding 12 month period. More women than men had anxiety disorders1..

Read more about Anxiety and its treatment.

How common is depression?

It is normal to feel sad some of the time, but with a depressive disorder people can feel sad and disinterested in the pleasurable things of life for at least a two-week period as well as experiencing other intense symptoms. This is different to feeling depressed after the loss of a loved one or having had a major change in life circumstances after which it is normal to go through a depressed period.

In 2007, mood disorders (also known as affective disorders) – depression, dysthymia and bipolar affective disorder, affected 6.2% of people aged 16−85 years. These mood disorders were more common among women than men2..

Read more about Depression and its treatment.

What causes depression and anxiety?

Depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors working together. Someone can be more at risk of developing a depressive disorder if there is a history of depression in the family, though this does not mean they will get depression. Personality factors such as worrying a lot, being pessimistic, self-critical and judgmental, or having a negative thinking style, low self-esteem or social anxiety, are contributing factors.

The important thing is to recognise that you may have depression, anxiety or an overload of stress and to seek treatment early.

If you are concerned about someone who show signs of depression and may be suicidal, you can contact Beyondblue or the Blackdog Institute for assistance.

Disclaimer: the information on these pages is not intended as advice, nor for diagnosis or treatment. You need to consult your doctor for these things without delay.

Contact Linda Magson, Sydney counsellor specialising in treating depression, anxiety and stress.

Please note: You may be entitled to a rebate for counselling through your health fund as Linda is a registered provider of counselling services.
Read more about Stress and its treatment.

1. National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (ABS cat. No. 4326.0)

2. ibid.