Depression & Low Mood

If you have been feeling flat, down or irritable for a while, you may be wondering if you are depressed.

While we can all feel down and sad at times, the symptoms of a clinical depression can be more intense and last at least two weeks and often much longer.  

Depression is a common mental health problem, affecting 1 in 16 in Australians every year. One in five people will experience a depression at some point in their lives. Often depression will occur with other mental health problems, such as anxiety or insomnia, and the symptoms can severely disrupt a person’s life.

What are the causes of depression?

There are many interrelated factors that can contribute to the start of a depression, and other factors that can maintain or extend the depression. These include: genetic factors, biochemical factors, stress, temperament, alcohol and drug use, other illnesses and mental health problems. 

What are the symptoms of depression?

There are a number of signs and symptoms of depression which can be categorised into physical, mental (related to thinking), emotional (feelings), and behavioural changes. 

During an episode of depression, you may find yourself caught in a negative spiral, thinking and behaving in ways that can make you feel worse. 

Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads depression

Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads depression ripples in water

Physical symptoms of depression

  • Sleep problems (not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much)
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Lacking in energy and motivation
  • Headaches and muscle pain
  • Low libido/loss of interest in sex

Common feelings that may occur with depression

  • Sad, miserable, down
  • Overwhelmed
  • Irritable and restless
  • Frustrated and angry
  • Anxious and nervous
  • Guilty, ashamed

Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads depression
Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads depression grass dew

Common changes to thinking and thinking patterns:

  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Ruminating and overthinking
  • Negative and self-critical thoughts, e.g.:  

“I’m a failure”
“I’m worthless”
“There is no hope for me”
“There is no way out”
“I’ve lost control”
“Nobody likes me”
“No-one will ever love me”

There are endless other negative and unhelpful thoughts common in depression. Examples of unhelpful thinking patterns are: overgeneralising, thinking in black and white/all or nothing terms, imagining the worst-case scenario (catastrophising), jumping to negative conclusions, minimising one’s own qualities, and looking at everything through a negative lens or mental filter ignoring any positive aspects of a situation. 

Common unhelpful behaviours in depression:

  • overeating or skipping meals
  • eating more high sugar or salted foods
  • using alcohol or other substances to numb feelings
  • shopping and buying items you don’t really need
  • gambling, obsessive gaming or other addictive behaviours
  • avoiding work or studies
  • socially withdrawing or cancelling commitments.

These behaviours may provide some short-term relief from low mood or anxiety, but they are counterproductive and can intensify feelings of guilt, shame, irritability and lead to other health or personal problems. 

Sometimes people can feel trapped in this negative cycle and can’t see a way out.  This can lead to feelings of overwhelm, hopelessness and at is worst, sometimes thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads depression

Treatment for depression

The good news is that effective treatments for depression are available. Doctors and mental health professionals work together to assess the causes of your depression and can provide evidence-based treatments to help you feel happier, healthier, and more at ease with yourself and others.

In some cases, medication can be useful, and there are a range of psychological treatments for depression also shown to help people recover, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). 

Treatment for depression on the Gold Coast

Dr Giselle Withers is an experienced Clinical Psychologist at Avoka Health on the Gold Coast, who can help you overcome depression. Giselle has advanced training at a doctoral level in mental health assessment and psychological therapy, and has over 20 years of experience treating depression and a range of other mental health problems. Giselle has a compassionate and non-judgemental counselling style, and will work with you to understand the causes of your depression, and will help you develop skills and strategies to feel happier, healthier, and more at ease with yourself and others.

Your first step

If your mood has been low for a while, and you think you may be experiencing depression, it is important to talk to your general practitioner (GP) as a first step.

Your GP can provide an initial assessment to look at your overall health and symptoms, and discuss treatment options with you. If appropriate, your GP can prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan which will allow you to access a Medicare rebate for your psychology sessions.

Getting the right support early can help prevent feelings of low mood deteriorating further, and can help you start feeling better and more positive about the future.

Making a booking with Dr Giselle Withers

To make an appointment with Dr Giselle please contact Avoka Health using the links below.

If you have a GP referral, you can ask your GP to send this directly to Giselle or you can email a copy to Giselle yourself before your first appointment.

Book appointment: