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What are the causes of depression?

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Causes and risk factors for depression

Depression is a medical condition that can have a serious effect on both your emotional and physical wellbeing.

The exact cause of depression isn’t known, but there are a number of things that can  contribute to its development, from biological risk factors to external circumstantial events.

“Depression is multifactorial – that means it’s usually due to a combination of biological, psychological and social factors,” explains Dr Ganesh Naidoo, medical director at Medmate.

“It may be that someone has a genetic vulnerability to depression, but it’s only when they’re under a certain amount of stress that it can result in a mood disorder. Anyone has the ability to develop depression, though.”

A tendency towards depression can also differ depending on your circumstances at the time . “You might be under a lot of stress but also have a strong social support network, which can get you through it,” says Dr  Naidoo. “Then there may be another time in your life where you don’t have those social protections. Depression is about the patient as a whole, and everything else that’s going on in their life.”

Common causes of depression

There are many factors that can cause depression. Although everyone experiences depression differently, understanding what may have caused a person to feel depressed can be helpful when it comes to knowing the best way to manage it.

Life events: Ongoing stressful situations such as bereavement, divorce, relationship break-ups, unemployment, abusive relationships and work stress have all been linked to the onset of depression. “These events can increase the risk of depression, especially if they’re coupled with other factors such as genetic predisposition,” says Dr Naidoo.

Personality: Some people might be more at risk of depression if they’re a particular personality type. Perfectionists, those who worry a lot, and those who have low self-esteem can be at higher risk of depression, according to research published in the Journal of Psychology.   

Drug and alcohol use: The relationship between drug and alcohol use and depression is complicated. “Dependency on alcohol can be a high risk for depression, but it’s also used as a coping mechanism for people who are suffering from stress,” says Dr Naidoo. More than  500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time at some point in their lives. “This can be a vicious cycle,” says Dr Naidoo. “Although alcohol might relieve stress or anxiety initially, when it wears off it can make mood disorders worse.”

Certain medical conditions: Some medical conditions may increase your risk of depression. People with chronic illnesses, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome are more prone to depression, reveal studies from the American Psychiatric Association.

Changes in hormones: Hormones play an essential role in regulating our mood and emotional wellbeing. Big changes in the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, perimenopause, menopause, and during pregnancy or the postpartum period can raise the risk of depression. “These hormonal changes often coincide with big changes in your life, such as having a baby or going through menopause,” says Dr Naidoo. “These are common times when people might need more support.”

Lack of social support: Feeling isolated or lonely can increase the risk of feeling depressed, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. “Social isolation is a significant risk factor for depression,” says Dr Naidoo. “This can be particularly common in elderly people.”

Common risk factors for depression

There are some genetic and medical risk factors that increase the risk of depression. Just because some of these risk factors may apply to you doesn’t mean you’ll experience depression.

Gender: Twice as many women than men are diagnosed with depression. While this may be due to the hormonal changes that women experience, it may also be because more women seek treatment than men.

Family history: If you have a parent or sibling with depression, research shows that you’re two to three times more likely to develop depression than someone without a family history of the illness.

Biochemical factors: Low levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are thought to be a risk factor for depression. “Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that send messages to the rest of your body, and help regulate your responses,” says Dr Naidoo. “They include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. We know that when low levels are restored – usually through medication – mood is improved.”

Vitamin D deficiency: Being deficient in vitamin D has been linked to depression, particularly seasonal depression, according to The British Journal of Psychiatry. “We don’t know exactly why this occurs, but it makes sense that if you’re outdoors, being active and socialising – while getting vitamin D at the same time – you’ll have a lower risk of developing depression,” says Dr Naidoo.

Certain medications: Some drugs and medications have been linked to an increased risk of depression, particularly some blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, steroids and prescription painkillers. “It’s really important to treat the whole person, and sometimes that means doctors need to treat depression alongside a chronic illness,” says Dr Naidoo. “Never stop taking medication without talking to your doctor first.”

Socioeconomic status: A low socioeconomic status paired with financial problems is linked to an increased risk of depression, shows research from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information. “Your socioeconomic status affects every part of your life, which can be a significant factor when it comes to depression,” says Dr Naidoo. “Financial stresses can definitely contribute towards mood change.”

Insomnia: There are strong links between insomnia and depression. People who have insomnia are 10 times more likely to become depressed than someone who sleeps well. It’s also been shown that up to 83% of people with depression have some insomnia symptoms, according to a UK study.

How to get help for depression

If you think you may be depressed,  talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling. “Your doctor will do an initial health assessment and check there are no other medical conditions that could be contributing to the issue,” says Dr Naidoo. “If they think you’re depressed, they’ll refer you to the appropriate services such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, or prescribe medication.”

What’s next? How Medmate can help you

Talk to a Medmate doctor today for some initial advice.

“Medmate doctors are registered Australian doctors who are accessible seven days a week (including public holidays) to provide immediate mental health support,” says Dr Naidoo.

“This means you’re able to consult with a mental health doctor online from the comfort and privacy of your own home, either via video or audio call.

“During our virtual consultations you’ll discuss your symptoms and concerns with the doctor. They may ask extra questions to better understand your situation, confirm the diagnosis, and develop a support plan.

“After the evaluation, the doctor will offer guidance on how to connect with mental health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists. They’ll also be able to assist with prescription renewals to help you manage your mental health issue until your local GP is available.

“You’re also able to request medical certificates and renewals for many of the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications in Australia.”

Learn More

Am I depressed? The signs and symptoms of depression.

Understanding depression medication: What are SSRIs and SNRIs?

Here’s what you don’t know about antidepressants

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Get An Online Mental Health Prescription

Online doctors can prescribe medication for depression and anxiety, as long as they are regular medications initially prescribed from your regular local GP.

Online prescriptions are sent directly to your mobile phone by SMS. You can request renewals of all the most common anti-depressants and anti-anxiety agents prescribed in Australia.

Safe, convenient and discreet.

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How To Consult With An Online Mental Health Doctor

Managing  depression or anxiety can be challenging. This is normal. We know it can be hard to organise a doctor appointment and how inconvenient this can be when you don’t feel like facing the world. With Medmate, you can see a mental health doctor online from the comfort and convenience of home. Our doctors can provide online mental health support and renew your regular antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents to keep control of your mental health problem.

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Can You Get A Doctor's Note For Mental Health?

Our doctors understand that it’s more convenient and discreet for you to request a medical certificate online to save you the hassle of attending a medical centre in-person. Fill in a simple questionnaire to make it easy for the doctor to assess your current illness. The doctor may call you to get some more information or provide some helpful advice. Certificates are sent quickly and securely to your email address.

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Is it confidential to consult an online doctor about my mental health concerns?

Yes. Online doctor consultations adhere to stringent privacy guidelines and ensure confidentiality. Medmate online doctors are registered medical practitioners in Australia, and your personal information and medical records are safeguarded under Australian privacy regulations.

During a virtual consultation, you’ll share your symptoms, concerns, and medical history with the doctor. They may ask further questions to better comprehend your situation and arrive at a diagnosis. Depending on their evaluation, the doctor will suggest suitable treatment options and may prescribe medication, if required.

  • Telehealth consultation with a Medmate Doctor
  • Mental health support for home care
  • Guidance on self-care
  • Renewal of prescriptions for medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is mental health important?

Mental health is important for several reasons, both on an individual and social level. Here are some of the reasons why mental health is important:

  • Overall well-being: Good mental health is essential for your overall well-being and quality of life. It includes the ability to cope with stress, maintain positive relationships, and contribute to your relationships and society.
  • Physical health: There is a strong link between mental and physical health. Poor mental health can lead to physical health problems such as chronic disease – heart disease, stroke, pain, diabetes and dementia.
  • Productivity: Mental health affects your ability to function effectively in your personal and professional life.
  • Relationships: Mental health impacts your ability to form and maintain positive relationships with others. It can also affect the quality of those relationships.
  • Economic impact: Poor mental health has significant economic consequences for individuals, businesses, and society as a whole. It can lead to increased healthcare costs, lost productivity, and decreased economic growth.
  • Stigma reduction: Improving mental health awareness and reducing stigma can encourage individuals to seek help when needed and improve overall mental health.

In summary, good mental health is important for individuals to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to society. It is also crucial for the economic and social well-being of communities and society at large. By prioritizing mental health, individuals and society as a whole can benefit from improved well-being, better relationships, productivity, and quality of life.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

 

What are the benefits of getting support for your mental health?

Feeling apprehensive or uncertain about reaching out for help is completely normal.

You might be hesitant to share your thoughts and emotions or believe that your situation isn’t severe enough to warrant support. You could also be worried about becoming a burden to others.

The mental health care community consists of compassionate, non-judgmental professionals helping individuals, like yourself, who are at various points in their path to recovery.

We are here to stand by you and provide the support you need.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

 

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health condition that is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest in activities that one once enjoyed. Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. The condition can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can affect all aspects of life, including relationships with family and friends. Depression alters all aspects of life such as motivation, sleep, energy levels, sex drive, appetite, and ability to cope with life stressors. Patients have no conscious control over these symptoms as they are due to an imbalance of a mood regulating neurotransmitter in the brain.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

How common is depression?

One in seven Australian’s take antidepressants for anxiety and depression daily.

If you are on a regular medication for a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, you can have your prescription renewed online with a Medmate doctor.

What is depression symptoms?

Symptoms of depression may include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, fatigue or decreased energy, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, appetite changes or weight loss, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

How is depression treated?

Depression is a highly treatable condition. Research indicates that employing a biopsychosocial approach is most effective in creating a treatment plan. The connection and interdependence between the mind and body play a crucial role in addressing depression. As healthcare professionals, we ensure that patients receive optimal social support, have access to psychological counseling services, and are prescribed the appropriate medications for treating depression. Modern antidepressants are effective and safe. By implementing a comprehensive treatment plan, individuals can experience a remarkable transformation from feelings of despair and social isolation to a happy, fully functional life within a matter of months.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a medical condition marked by persistent and excessive worry. While stress and concern are natural responses to challenging situations, these feelings typically subside once the situation has passed or the stressor is removed. Anxiety becomes a disorder when these feelings persist or occur without any specific reason.

Various forms of anxiety exist, ranging from mild to severely distressing, and can impact an individual’s ability to engage in and enjoy everyday activities. It is possible for a person to experience more than one type of anxiety. Some individuals may also suffer from depression alongside anxiety, putting them at risk of developing issues such as alcohol or drug abuse.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety, also known as social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia, is a mental health condition characterized by an intense, disabling fear of social situations, such as meeting strangers, dating, or public speaking, in which embarrassment or negative judgment by others may occur. People with social anxiety fear being judged and evaluated negatively by others, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. This fear can lead to intense discomfort and avoidance of social situations. The good news is that social anxiety disorder is treatable, and people can learn to manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

Do I have anxiety?

To determine whether you have anxiety, you can evaluate your symptoms and their frequency. Anxiety issues can be challenging to identify because they often develop gradually and it can be difficult to determine when worry becomes excessive.

Typical anxiety is temporary and linked to specific situations or events, such as job interviews or exams. In contrast, anxiety experienced by those with an anxiety disorder is more constant, frequent, and not always related to an apparent stressor. While each anxiety disorder has unique characteristics, some common symptoms include:

  • Physical symptoms: panic attacks, racing heart, hot and cold flashes, chest tightness, rapid breathing, restlessness, or tenseness.
  • Psychological symptoms: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking.
  • Behavioral symptoms: avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety, potentially impacting your studies, work, or social life.

Anxiety can manifest in different ways, and a medical professional can provide an accurate diagnosis based on your symptoms and medical history.

Talk to an online doctor today to provide an initial assessment and advice.

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How to stop anxiety?

Anxiety can be a difficult condition to manage, but there are several strategies that can help. Here are some tips to help stop anxiety:

  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is a powerful stress reducer that can improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly, and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.
  • Practice controlled breathing: Poor breathing habits can contribute to anxiety and many of its symptoms. Try controlled breathing exercises to help calm yourself down.
  • Use relaxation techniques: Visualization techniques, meditation, and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
  • Make sleep a priority: Getting enough sleep is essential to feeling rested and reducing anxiety. If you are having difficulty sleeping, talk to your doctor.
  • Eat healthy: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, as these substances can exacerbate anxiety.
  • Face your anxiety: Acknowledge and accept your anxiety. Avoiding or denying it can make it worse.

If these methods do not help to manage your anxiety, it may be time to seek professional help. Psychotherapy and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety disorders.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

How can I get my mental health medication discreetly and conveniently?

Using a telemedicine platforms like Medmate, you can receive a prescription from an online doctor and have your medication delivered to your preferred address or pick it up from a selected pharmacy. This provides a discreet and convenient way to access your mental health medication.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

How do I renew my mental health medication online?

To get your mental health medication renewed with Medmate, follow these steps:

Visit Medmate: First, visit the Medmate website or download the Medmate app on your smartphone.

Choose ONLINE PRESCRIPTIONS: Click on the MENTAL HEALTH category or search for your medication using the search bar.

Complete the online digital medical consultation questionairre. Make sure you provide all the information the doctor needs about your allergies, current medications and current medical conditions.

Prepare for the phone consultation: The doctor will call you to clarify information. Gather information about your current medication, including the name, dosage, and the regular prescribing doctor. Also, note down any concerns or questions you have related to your medication.

Attend the phone consultation: Attend the virtual appointment with the Medmate doctor. Discuss your mental health condition, your current medication, and any concerns you may have. Be honest and open about your symptoms and experiences.

Request a prescription renewal: During the consultation, ask the doctor if they can renew your mental health medication. If they agree, they will provide a new prescription for you.

Fill your prescription: After receiving the prescription, you can use the Medmate platform to order your medication. It will be delivered to your preferred address or can be picked up from a selected pharmacy.

Follow up: If necessary, schedule follow-up appointments with your Medmate doctor to monitor your progress and ensure proper medication management.

By following these steps, you can conveniently renew your mental health medication through Medmate and ensure that you receive the appropriate care and support for your wellbeing.

Can online doctors prescribe medication for depression and anxiety?

Yes, online doctors can prescribe medication for depression and anxiety, as long as they deem it appropriate for your specific condition. They may prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or other appropriate treatments.

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

What should I expect during an online doctor consultation for mental health?

During an online consultation, you will discuss your symptoms, concerns, and medical history with the doctor. They may ask questions to better understand your situation and provide a diagnosis. Based on their assessment, the doctor will recommend appropriate treatment options and may prescribe medication if necessary.

Is it confidential to consult an online doctor about my mental health concerns?

Yes, online doctor consultations are confidential and follow strict privacy guidelines. Online doctors are registered Australian medical practitioners. Your personal information and medical records are protected under Australian privacy regulations.

How do I get help for mental health?

Need to talk to a doctor?

Connect to a Medmate doctor  7 days a week via our Telehealth service. Online doctors will be able to talk to you discreetly about your feelings in the safety and comfort of your home.

Click here to talk to an online doctor now

If you are interested in speaking to a Medmate online doctor about mental health concerns, here are some tips to help you prepare for your conversation:

  • Write down your symptoms: Before your appointment, take some time to write down any symptoms or concerns you have been experiencing. This can help you remember important details when speaking with the doctor.
  • Be honest: It’s important to be honest with your doctor about your symptoms, even if they are embarrassing or difficult to talk about. Your doctor is there to help you and provide the best care possible.
  • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about your symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment options. Understanding your condition and treatment plan can help you feel more in control and confident in your care.
  • Take notes: During your appointment, take notes on what the doctor says. This can help you remember important details and follow-up instructions.
  • Follow through: If your doctor recommends any follow-up appointments or tests, be sure to follow through with them as directed.

Remember, Medmate online doctors are there to help you with your mental health concerns. By preparing ahead of time and being honest and open during your appointment, you can get the care you need to feel better.