We all have moments in our lives when we feel sad, experience variations in our mood, or feel low. Depression is more than just a low mood — it is a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.

If you would like support and advice about how to deal with depression and would like to chat to someone, call our confidential 24/7 support line on 1800 377 700.
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Causes of depression

No one is immune to depression which can be caused by:

  • genetic predisposition
  • long-term stress, such as being in an abusive relationship, constant work stress, or prolonged social isolation
  • a life event such as giving birth
  • major life events, such as the death of a friend or pet, divorce or separation, or a diagnosis of illness
  • serious medical conditions such as chronic pain, and other chronic physical health issues, and thyroid issues, such as Grave’s disease
  • alcohol and drug use
  • changes of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), particularly serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline
  • no obvious identifiable trigger, and
  • as part of another illness, such as bipolar disorder.

Struggling to self-manage depression may negatively impact on all aspects of your physical and mental health. Finding out more about what depression is and potential causes and symptoms can be a good starting point, you can read more about that on the Sane website.

The most important thing to remember is that it is a health issue and support is available.

Types of depression

Major clinical depression

Major clinical depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder, unipolar depression, or simply ‘depression’. It is diagnosed when symptoms of depression last more than two weeks, and negatively impact on everyday functioning.


Dysthymia is deemed as a persistent mild depression where symptoms are less severe but last longer. It is diagnosed when depression continues over two years.


Melancholia is a severe form of depression that causes slowed movement and a complete loss of pleasure in everything, or almost everything.

Psychotic depression

Psychotic depression occurs when a person experiencing depression has a distorted view of reality, and delusional thinking. Psychotic features may include hallucinations, when the person sees things or hears things that are not there and/or delusions, which include false beliefs, not shared by others in their culture or community. Examples of delusional thoughts include thinking you are being watched or under surveillance, believing you are an evil person and paranoid that everyone is against you or causing your health issues.

Perinatal depression

This type of depression occurs during pregnancy and/or post the birth of a child. An estimated 16 percent of women in Australia will experience depression within three months of the birth of their baby, and 10 percent experience depression during pregnancy.

To find out more about perinatal depression visit Beyond Blue.

Atypical depression

This depression may include a fear and sensitivity of rejection by others, sleeping excessively, and overeating.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder affects two percent of the population. Symptoms include periods of depression and also periods of elevated moods (hypomanic).

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is often described as a milder form of bipolar disorder. The person experiences chronic fluctuating moods over at least two years, involving periods of hypomania (a mild to moderate level of mania) and periods of depressive symptoms, with very short periods (no more than two months) of normality between. The duration of the symptoms is shorter, less severe and not as regular, and therefore does not fit the criteria of bipolar disorder or major depression.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

SAD is not common in Australia but is related to experiencing depression, usually during winter, due to a lack of exposure to sunlight.

Accessing support for depression

Remember depression is treatable and effective treatments are available. Seeking support early is the key.

Struggling to self-manage a mental health issue may continue to negatively impact on all aspects of your physical and mental health. You are not alone and seeking support and help is the first step to restoring your health.

Dental Practitioner Support will understand and listen to your concerns, provide practical advice for your individual health needs and, most importantly, support you to focus on meeting your own health needs.

What can I do next?

Read some of our other articles that relate to looking after your mental health:

Our service provides free and confidential support to dental practitioners and students Australia-wide. If you would like to speak to someone call us 24/7 on 1800 377 700 or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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