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Depression is an insidious thing: It can be subtle, and hard to spot. Furthermore, it affects people from all walks of life, and there is no ‘typical’ sufferer of depression. Over the years, the world has been shocked by many high-profile personalities and celebrities who have revealed that they suffer from depression. Often, some of the most successful and seemingly happy people can be silently suffering with depression for years, and even their closest friends and family may be unaware. In this article, we take a look at why depression can be hard to spot.

As we’ve seen with some very high-profile suicides over the past several years, depression can affect even the most outwardly successful people. Depression can be so hard to spot because there is no typical sufferer of depression, and just about anybody can suffer from the condition. From famous actors and musicians, to successful businesspeople and even sometimes children: depression has very little to do with social status, career success, or an apparent ‘perfect’ lifestyle.

Celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Ellen Degeneres, Jim Carrey and Gwyneth Paltrow have all been open in the past about their battles with depression, and how it has affected their lives. You can read more about 30 high-profile personalities who have suffered with depression here.

Whilst it may be very easy to detect depression in some people – like a family member who suddenly becomes withdrawn, or talks of self-harm – it can be almost impossible to identify in others. Every sufferer of depression presents with a different range of symptoms, and many sufferers themselves do not realise that they may be depressed. Some people suffering with depression may become withdrawn, appear regularly sad and may start to avoid social activities or begin performing poorly at work or school; whereas other may throw themselves more heavily into their work or study, and may not show any outward signs of being depressed. The most significant indicator of depression is a sudden change in behaviour, however subtle, and deviation from normal routines or activities.

Despite the fact that depression has become much more widely understood, there is no doubt still a certain stigma attached to mental illness of any kind. Although there are a range of support channels that someone suffering with depression may turn to, including LifeLine, Beyond Blue and reaching out to a qualified psychologist, many people will attempt to hide their depression. Depression can be hard to spot in someone who is trying actively to hide it, as they may be very careful to appear as though there is nothing wrong. Once again, a sudden change in behaviour can be a strong indicator of depression.

For those who’ve never experienced depression, or known someone who has, it can be easy to assume that depression occurs only as the result of a ‘trigger’ or is brought on by a troubling or traumatic event. In fact, depression can seem to arise for no obvious reason at all. Whilst the science around causes for depression is still unclear, there are studies which suggest some people may be genetically predisposed to the condition, whilst others with no family history or other common triggers (such as an abusive childhood or troubled upbringing) will be affected by depression for no discernible reason.  What is very clear though, is that one’s cognitive processing (ways of thinking) is one of the main factors that leads to depression, and with effective support and management strategies from an experienced psychologist; these negative thought patterns can be absolutely changed to prevent further cycles of depression.

Even those who have previously experienced depression, and have managed to get it under control, can experience an unexpected recurrence in their depression at any time. Unlike sadness, grief or loneliness; depression is not generally something that goes away over a short period of time, of its own accord. Whilst it is normal to experience a period of sadness or grief after a troubling event, depression often lasts over a longer period of time.  In fact, this can be one of the most difficult aspects of depression for those who experience it.

Reading the alarming statistics around depression can be overwhelming; after all, if anyone can suffer from depression, and it can recur at any time, how do you tackle it?

The answer lies in seeking the appropriate help, not only to support you through your depression, but to help you develop a plan and teach effective strategies to manage your depression for life. Depression doesn’t need to be a life sentence for unhappiness. You can take control of your life, and of your depression, with professional, experienced and understanding support.  At Integrated Health Specialists, we have a highly successful and sought after depression treatment program. We have helped countless people to overcome their struggle with depression, and go on to lead happy, healthy and empowered lives. If you think you might be suffering with depression, get in touch today, and let us help you through it.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen