Depressive Disorders

There are various types of Depressive Disorders and the symptom presentations vary from minor impact to very severe impact in an individual’s functioning. It is helpful to know the different types and their symptoms for better management.

  • Major Depression or simply ‘depression’ – this type of depression usually involves ongoing low mood and lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities and an episode lasts usually last more than two weeks.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Individuals experiences both depressive episodes and manic episodes. These episodes may last from a few hours to days and even weeks. The diagnosis for Bipolar disorder does take time as the clinician has to understand the client’s cycle of episodes.
  • Depressive episodes: feelings of low mood, feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness and lack of interest and pleasure in things.
  • Manic or hypomanic episodes: extremely high mood and activity or agitation, racing thoughts, little need for sleep and rapid speech.
  • Melancholia – the sufferer experiences most of the symptoms of depression, alongside also experiencing slow body movements. Individual also experience a complete lack of pleasure from anything and everything.
  • Psychotic Depression -As the name suggests, this type of depression involves all the symptoms of depression and in addition, the person experiences psychotic episodes. The psychotic episodes involve hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that other people claimed as not there) and paranoid dilutions (worried as somebody out there to get you).
  • Dysthymia – this type of depression was also called as double depression. In a very simple language it is explained as you may have an ongoing low mood for a very long period of time and then you hit the rock bottom (severe depressive episodes) and this cycle continues.
  • Perinatal depression – Antenatal and postnatal depression referred together as perinatal depression.  Antenatal depression happens during pregnancy and post-natal depression occurs after birth. Usually women go through a lot of stress and worries around pregnancy and birth, however, perinatal depression involves, where the sufferer struggles to function in a day to day basis.

What is Depression?

We all feel sad at times. This sadness can last for a few hours to sometimes a few days. Most of us can regain our happiness back either when the sad situations end or by a happy situation arise. Depression, on the other hand, is a feeling of intense sadness or unable to experience pleasure which can last for several weeks, months or even years. Depression is not just a low mood- it is a serious condition that can adversely interfere with an individual’s physical and psychological functioning.

Am I depressed or just sad?

You may be depressed if more than two weeks you experience sadness and irritability and have lost interest in activities that were usually enjoyable to you. Remember, we all at times due to situational stresses may experience signs and symptoms of depression. Also, those who experience depression may not always show visible signs of depression.

Some of the signs and symptoms of depression including the following:

  • Behavioral: Isolating from others, avoidance to responsibilities, difficulties with focus and concentration, unable to experience pleasure from previously enjoyed activities, impulsive and risk-taking behaviors, substance use, and in some occasion’s self-harm or suicidal behaviors including planning to commit suicide.
  • Emotional: overwhelmed, hopeless, irritable, sad and down, guilty, disappointed, miserable, lacking in confidence and self-esteem
  • Cognitive: “I am no good”, “I am a failure”, “I cannot make anything right”,” I am worthless”, “people are better off without me”, “what is the point? “ nothing ever good happened to me”, “it never get better”, “I wish I was dead” etc.
  • Physiological: Tiredness, unexplained aches and pain in the body, changes in appetite, weight gain or loss and altered sleep patterns.

What causes depression?

The causes of depression are yet to be found. However, there have been some factors which are identified as contributory to depression which include:

Situational stressors and events: Long-term exposure to stress resulting from long-term unemployment, financial struggles, homelessness, long-term isolation and avoidance and prolonged work/ family/ study related stress can be contributory factors in developing depression. However, Individual may be at the risk of developing depression following a trigger (e.g. loss of an income) after prolonged exposure to unfortunate events.

Individual factors

Family History: If there is a family history of depression, there is a likelihood that people may be at an increased genetic risk for developing depression. However, a person may or may not be at the risk of developing depression just by having a close relative or family member suffers from depression. Personal life experiences are contributory factors to trigger such genetic risks in developing depression.

Childhood trauma: Though there are a number of childhood trauma survivors lead a healthy and happy life, some of them can be at the risk of developing depression on exposure to unfortunate life events or situational stressors. Childhood trauma alters the brain chemicals (E.g. results in Dopamine deficits) and can pose a risk of sensitivity to stress stimuli.

Personality traits: Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality traits, particularly if they have tendencies to worry excessively, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to criticism, or are self-critical and having negative self-talk.

Chronic medical conditions: The stress and worry of coping with a serious illness can lead to depression, especially if you’re dealing with long-term management and/or chronic pain.

Substance abuse:  Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Substance use can alter the production of brain chemicals (that are responsible to make you feel a sense of happiness) results in an experience of depression.

However, depression is not just a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is a combination of factors including, substance use in order to deal with the stress that develops from ongoing crisis, in addition to the above-mentioned vulnerability factors which then contributes to developing depression.

Ready to find out more?

Depression can be successfully treated with the right support and care. Psychotherapy is one of the treatment methods that have been used to help the individual to gain confidence and resilience. The therapy can also help the client to address unresolved anxiety, grief, guilt, sadness and even trauma, which might be some of the contributory factors for depression.

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What is Stress?

Stress is a natural response to human body resulted from challenging and demanding life situations. A reasonable level of stress can be productive. For example, some level of stress help you to get through your day, including, waking up in the morning, get through your chores, attending work on time, meeting a deadline etc. However, when the demands and challenges a person experiences exceeds the limits, stress become overwhelming and can be harmful to mind and the body.

Some of the common life stressors are:

  • Death/loss of a loved one
  • Domestic Violence
  • Separation from a relationship/ Divorce
  • Loss of a job/fear of losing a job
  • Financial struggles
  • Changes and adjustment to new life situations
  • Physical illness or injury
  • Emotional problems (depressionanxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
  • Being a caregiver for a family member or important others
  • Bullying, Harassment and Stalking
  • Neighbourhood dispute
  • Legal issues

Effects of Stress:

Stress impacts Emotional, Physiological, Behavioral and Cognitive functioning in the following ways:

Emotional: Anxiety, Depression and Anger

Physiological: Shaking, increased heart rate, breathing becomes shallow and quick, excessive sweating, tightness in the chest, shoulder pain,  etc.

Behavioral: Avoidance, substance and gambling addiction, insomnia, obsessive and compulsive behaviors.

Cognitive: Poor concentration, forgetfulness, difficulty with decision making and confusion.

Stress at work

Stress at work is very common and can be caused by excessive workload, poor work-life balance, conflicts with others, bullying and harassment, organizational changes, going through disciplinary hearings, and many more. If stress from the job is interfering with your work performance, health, or personal life, it’s time to take action. No matter what you do for a living, or how stressful your job is, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your overall stress levels.

Signs of excessive stress at work

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, low mood or on the edge
  • Feeling uneasy or tension when getting ready to work
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unable to switch off from work and/or overworking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Making more mistakes at work
  • Lack of libido
  • Social withdrawal
  • Fear of something awful will happen
  • Performance anxiety
  • Loss of interest in work

Prolonged stress and its impacts

Prolonged stress can result in mental health conditions such as Anxiety Disorders and Depression.

Ready to find out more?

Prevention is better than cure. Getting help and developing skills in managing stress is the best way to move forward.

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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is body’s response to real or imagined fear. When the body gets confronted with fear, you might experience the following symptoms;

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweaty palms
  • Butterflies in your stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Nauseous
  • Feeling of blood rushing through your body

Everybody feels anxious at times and this is normal and can be helpful at times. Imagine you are crossing a road and notice a car fast approaching, immediately; you feel a sudden rush of energy and quickly complete the crossing. Anxiety can be motivating and productive at times. For instance, you have an assignment is due and the motivating anxiety that you experience helps you to plan and complete the task in time.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

An Anxiety Disorder is when the experience of anxiety starts to impact your life and your ability to function declines. Someone with Anxiety Disorders sees a potential danger in situations and unnecessary worries and fears start to fume, which then impacts their ability to remain confident in situations.  Consequently, they avoid situations and these behaviors increasingly interfere with their ability to function normally. The following mental disorders were classified as Anxiety Disorders;

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The features of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are constant and excessive worry about school and work performance that the person finds difficult to manage to result in anxiety reactions in the body. Consequently, the person feels tired and fatigued.
  • Panic Disorder- Panic Attack: the person experiences recurrent unexpected panic attack and is persistently worried about having panic attacks or worried about getting embarrassed in the public because of panic attacks. Panic attacks may occur as a result of being feared by an object, person or a situation. However, a panic attack may also occur for no apparent reason.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: The individual may experience excessive fears and worries about being in public places or situations. The cognitions associated with such worries and fears include being negatively evaluated/ judged by others, by being embarrassed, humiliated or rejected, or offending others.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Excessive levels of worry and struggling to settle down, when there is a separation or perceived separation from attachment figures. Although the symptoms often develop during childhood, they can also be carried throughout adulthood as well.
  • Selective Mutism: the individual consistently fails to speak in public situations, where there is an expectation to speak. The individual will be able to speak and express themselves in less confronting and comfortable situations. The failure to verbally communicate may interfere with the individual’s ability to achieve academic, occupational and marital success.
  • Specific Phobia: Individuals with specific phobias express intense fear responses and avoidant tendencies to certain objects or situations including, getting in contact/exposed to certain animals, natural environment, blood-injection-injury etc.
  • Agoraphobia: The person may suffer from intense levels of fears of worries when exposed to situations including, using public transport, being enclosed in places, being in a crowd, or being outside in the home alone etc.
  • Substance/ medication-induced Anxiety Disorder: The sufferer exhibits anxiety symptoms as a result of intoxication or withdrawal from substances or to a prescribed medication.
  • Anxiety Disorder due to another medical condition: Certain medical conditions result in anxiety reactions in your body.

Would you like help?

If you believe that you are suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, it is best to check with your GP and override any medical conditions before seeking mental health treatment. Anxiety disorders can be well managed if treated properly.

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Suicide is a major growing health concern in Australia.

As per the Australian State and Territory suicide data 2016 over a five year period from 2012 to 2016, the average number of suicide deaths per year was 2,795.
  • Suicide is approximately three times higher in males, which is consistent across every state and territory of Australia.
  • Overall, the age-specific suicide rate in 2016 was highest in men aged 85 or above (34.0 per 100,000), which has been the age group with the highest rate since 2011.

Suicide can be preventable!

Ongoing periods of low mood, ruminations and worries that leads to suicide provoking thoughts. Sadly, after a period of rumination and worries, the individual comes to the conclusion that the world will be a better place without them and the individual get obsessed with suicidal ideation which can lead them to act on it.

The likelihood of attempting or committing suicide is also depends on the plans that the individual makes about suicide and how easily accessible these plans are to those individuals. Also, the risk escalates if the person had previous attempts of suicide and the desensitization from such actions. If you are worried about yourself or someone close to you it is important to seek help early.

Unfortunately, an average household is fully potential to cause significant harm to an individual due to the easy access to lethal objects and hazardous chemicals/substances. It is impossible to remove them all, but we can still do some groundworks to reduce the risks. This includes,

  • Firearms: Due to the impulsive nature of suicidal ideation, storing a firearm in household and its easy access can be lethal. Keep them away or lock them up.
  • Drugs, Medications and Alcohol: unfortunately, certain prescription drugs with the combination of alcohol and illicit drugs can cause instant death. Limit the number of pills available each day. Keep them away or lock them up. It’s ideal to ban street drugs all together.
  • Household Products: Household cleaning chemicals including bleach, pesticides and insecticides needs to be kept away or locked securely. This also includes any sharp objects including kitchen knives to be removed or locked up.

Feeling like not yourself?

It is important to seek help at the early stages. Please talk to a Mental Health Professional or a person that you trust.

If you feel that you are at high risks of self-harm or suicides or having thoughts about such, please reach out for help on the following phone numbers. They are available 24/7.

For Emergency Call 000

LifeLine – 13 11 14

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636

Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800

Men’s Line – 1300 78 99 78

Suicide call back service – 1300 659 467

Suicide Line Victoria – 1300 651 251

A person who suffers from disenfranchised grief believes that their grief is unacceptable and wrong and they are not allowed to grieve. They also experience a lot of shame in talking about the grief and fear judgment from others. This makes the grief prolonged and long lasting. People at times experience an unbearable amount of emotional pain as they are grieving secretly.

A number of sufferers of Disenfranchised Grief complain about people minimising on their grief. This is one of those not well explored grief but unfortunately a lot of people suffer in the darkness.

Some examples of disenfranchised grief include but not limited to;

  • Loss/death of a pet animal
  • Loss/ death of a secret relationship
  • Diagnosis of certain medical conditions (e.g. AIDS)
  • Death of a co-worker/ associate
  • Death due to child abuse (perpetrator grief)
  • Grief following abortion
  • Grief following adoption
  • Death of a helping professional
  • Loss of health and disability
  • Loss of certain possessions
  • Imprisonment following a crime

Whatever the grief is, there is always a hope. There is no need to suffer in the silence any more.

Insight clinic can help with grief that is disenfranchised. All the sessions at insight clinic are bulk billed.  If you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to discuss with your GP about your disenfranchised grief to be eligible for a care plan. Just say to GP that you are not at your normal self and you need to speak to a mental health professional.

Self Care

Self-care – Why is it so important?

Mental health issues are largely preventable with proper self-care. A good self-care plan can help you to manage stress, boost your productivity and wellbeing.

It is important to fill your day with pleasant activities. Pleasant activities promote positive thoughts and thus to build hope. It brings significant changes to your brain chemistry and produces those neurotransmitters (found in between brain cells) which are responsible for the sense of happiness. When you engage in pleasant activities daily, it boosts your immune system to fight against diseases and also brings positive thoughts and attitude. A healthy mind is very resistant to stress and consequently achieve optimum mental health.

Neurotransmitters found in between the brain cells

Why hesitate, add some of these pleasant activities to your diary;

  • Morning walk:Start your day with 10-20 minutes of morning walk (Helps to clear your mind)
  • Meditate:Releases a lot of endorphins into your brain producing a sense of calmness and control.  (You can find some audio clips on how to meditate in the resources section of this website)
  • Music:Listening to music (a natural way to produce dopamine(Neurotransmitter) for harmless excitement)
  • Lunch:Avoid spending a whole day at your work desk. Why not taking a lunch outside and enjoy! (removing the scenery and stimulate your taste buds even for a short period of time can enhance your mood)
  • Gifts:Plan a surprise gift to those who are special to you (A good way to enhance the feeling of thrill in a safe way)
  • Act of Compassion:Feed the homeless (Act of compassion is the key to happiness)
  • Smile: Smile, whenever you can even if you don’t feel like (the stretch of the muscles around your lips when you smile trick with your brain chemicals) Try now!
  • Exercise: Exercises promote the production of endorphins (Neurotransmitters). It helps you to reduce stress, calms overactive brain, reduces rumination and worries and promotes healthy body and mind.
  • Have a bed time routine:A good night sleep can influence your body’s metabolism greatly. Practices sleep hygiene. (Sleep hygiene resources can be accessible in this website)

Well! The list is never ending. Why not exploring and making a list of your own pleasure activities, which are unique to you. A good search in the google can also give you hundreds of ideas. Let the fun of planning begin!


Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder – OCD

OCD can occur in any age groups regardless of gender at any stages in their life. The disorder is characterized by intense fear and obsessive irrational thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviours to relieve the anxiety resulted from the obsessive thoughts. The sufferers usually know that their fears are irrational, however, struggles to get in terms with the discomfort that they suffer.

Some examples include;

  • Fear that the house might get into fire (obsessive thoughts) and checking and double checking the gas stove has been turned off (compulsive behaviours)
  • Fear that something awful might happen (obsessive thoughts) and performing certain rituals (excessively arranging things in order, counting etc.) to avoid bad luck (compulsive behaviours)
  • Fear of contamination (obsessive thoughts) and performing excessive washing (compulsive behaviours)
  • Fear about a potential for a terminal illness (obsessive thoughts) and performing self-checks, readings, and frequent visit to health clinics (compulsive behaviours)

An episode of OCD appears as follows;

Exposure and Response Prevention- ERP

ERP is one of that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – CBT  techniques used to treat OCD. With effective treatment, OCD can be well managed.

Insight Clinic Provides Bulk Billed ERP treatment for their clients. All you need is a care plan and referral from your GP. You do not need a diagnosis to get treatment.  If you are worried that these obsessive and compulsive behaviours interfere with your ability to enjoy a reasonable life, Insight clinic can help!

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD is a serious mental health condition where the sufferer experiences significant emotional pain and carries self-harm and suicide risks.  There are several myths and stigma about this disorder that makes many of the sufferers not to seek diagnosis and treatment. The avoidance of diagnosis and treatment can make the symptoms worse. In fact, through proper diagnosis and treatment, BPD sufferers can improve from their symptoms and can lead a promising and successful life.

Recent research shows that 85% of the time the condition is developed as a result of long-term exposure to childhood trauma resulted from a dysfunctional family atmosphere and 15% of the time biological factors contribute to the development of BPD.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder Include;

  • Fear of abandonment and rejection: BPD sufferers are terrified of being abandoned or rejected. They often act in a way to stop this perceived or real abandonment by acting in a frantic way (e.g. begging to stay, getting overly clingy, and engages in self-sabotaging behaviours to make the other person stay in the relationship). In some occasions, people avoid attachment to avoid the possibility of getting hurt and even abandoned.
  • Intense and unstable relationships: BPD sufferers tend to have intense short-lived intimate relationships. Because of the rapid mood swings, they may idealise someone close to them and the next moment they may devalue this person. Due to this mood instability, individuals struggle to maintain healthy intimate and other close relationships.
  • Unstable self-image: individuals struggle to maintain a clear self-image. A number of times they view themselves as evil and hate themselves. At times they feel good about themselves. This unstable self-image sometimes manifests as signs of depression. Due to the changes in self-image, people often struggle to maintain goals in life. This causes frequent changes in study, jobs, friends, lovers, values, and even sexual identity.
  • Impulsive behaviours: when you feel low or down, you might engage in thrill-seeking behaviours which are extremely risky including, reckless driving, impulsive spending, binge or restricted eating, risky or unprotected sexual behaviours, shoplift and polysubstance use.
  • Self-Harm and Suicidal ideation: Due to the experience of intense emotional pain and the struggles they experience to let out these emotions in a healthy way, individuals tend to resort self-harm or suicidal behaviours, threats, gestures or even attempts to gain relief from their painful emotional experiences.
  • Mood Swings: triggers that other people might brush off can cause intense emotional swings within BPD sufferers. These mood swings are intense but short-lived, unlike bipolar disorders.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness: people often complain that they feel like an empty shell or a hollow object. They feel “nothing” or “nobody”. As these emotions are uncomfortable to BPD sufferers, they tend to rely on substances or risky sexual behaviours to experience a relief, however, reported of feeling not satisfied after.
  • Explosive anger: BPD sufferers often experience intense short-lived rage, where they often engage in abusive and violent behaviours towards people who are close to them or at times destroy objects. They also spend a lot of time being angry at them.
  • Paranoia and Dissociation: Due to childhood traumatic experiences, the reliving of such experiences in adulthood and the strongly entrenched beliefs that develop from such experiences, BPD sufferers often feel suspicious about the motives of other people. This causes trust issues. When under stress they may also lose touch with reality – the experienced is known as ‘Dissociation’. During dissociation, they may temporally feel spaced out, confused or even feel an outside of their body experience.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy – DBT

DBT is considered one of those many treatments that found to be very effective in Treating BPD. The specialty of this therapy is, it is developed by Professor Marsha Linehan, who is a psychologist diagnosed with BPD and hence, she knows what works best.

Insight Clinic offers short term (10 sessions) fully bulk billed DBT sessions for its clients with no out of pocket expenses. All you need is a referral and care plan from your local GP. You don’t need a diagnosis to be eligible for the treatment. If you suspect that you suffer from BPD, and then talk to your GP and Insight Clinic does a preliminary assessment and commences the treatment. If you do not qualify for a diagnosis, then insight clinic will advise you other possible diagnosis and offer other potential treatment options.

If you feel that you are at high risks of self-harm or suicides or having thoughts about such, please reach out for help on the following phone numbers. They are available 24/7.

Life Line – 13 11 14

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636

Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800

Mens Line – 1300 78 99 78

Suicide call back service – 1300 659 467

Suicide Line Victoria – 1300 651 251