While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood - it's a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.

Depression affects how people feel about themselves. They may lose interest in work, hobbies and doing things they normally enjoy. They may lack energy, have difficulty sleeping or sleep more than usual. Some people feel irritable and some find it hard to concentrate. Depression makes life more difficult to manage from day to day.


What causes depression?

The exact cause of depression is unknown however a number of things can be associated with its development. Typically, depression doesn’t results from a single event, but from a combination of recent life events and other long-term or personal factors.


Life events: Research suggests that continuing difficulties such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring environment, long-term isolation or loneliness, prolonged exposure to stress at work – are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. However, recent events (such as losing a job) or a combination of events can “trigger” depression in people who are already at risk because of past bad experiences or personal factors.


Personal factors:

  • Family history – Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, this doesn’t mean that a person will automatically experience depression if a parent or close relative has had the illness.

  • Personality - Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, those who are sensitive to personal criticism or who are self-critical and negative.

  • Serious medical illness – Having a medical illness can trigger depression in two ways: It can bring about depression directly, or can contribute to depression through associated stress and worry, especially if it involves long-term management of the illness and/or chronic pain.

  • Drug and alcohol use – Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time, at some point in their lives.


How NDH can help:

By accurately determining which factors contribute to a person's depression, an individualised combination of diet and lifestyle changes, herbal therapy and supplementation may be prescribed and can be used in conjunction with any prescribed medications.

*Facts and figures were obtained from If you are facing a mental health crisis please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14