Think you might be living with depression? How to spot the signs

Everyone feels low from time to time, but if you're experiencing a low mood that doesn't
go away it's important to get help.

Around 1 in 7 people will experience depression in their lifetime. Knowing how to
spot the signs of depression and where to get help are the first steps towards recovery.

In this guide, we talk about how to know if you have depression, what the signs and
symptoms are and when to get support.

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What is depression?

Depression is a mental health condition that affects the way you feel, think and behave. Feeling low and losing interest in things that used to bring you joy are common depression symptoms.

It can also affect your body, for example by changing your appetite, disturbing your sleep or causing you to feel tired a lot of the time.

Depression is more than feeling sad or down. With depression, the low mood doesn't go away and can have a big impact on your day-to-day life. It may be hard to carry on with work, keep up with your responsibilities at home or connect with other people when you have depression.

Types of depression

The most common types of depression include:

  • Major depression or major depressive disorder – depressive symptoms last a long time and interfere with daily life.
  • Melancholic depression – a subtype of major depressive disorder that has both physical and emotional symptoms.
  • Psychotic depression – another subtype of major depressive disorder that includes hallucinations, delusions or paranoia.
  • Perinatal and postnatal depression – many women experience depression during pregnancy or after giving birth.

How to know if you have depression

Depression is diagnosed by a mental health professional. Before the diagnosis, they may ask you about your symptoms and how they affect your day-to-day life.

It can be helpful to record your symptoms in a journal so that you can speak to your doctor about them during your appointment.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Hopeless outlook – feeling like things won't get better.
  • Loss of interest – you might find that activities that used to make you feel good don't anymore.
  • Lack of energy – feeling tired a lot of the time or feeling like everything is too hard.
  • Sleep problems – having trouble sleeping at night or sleeping too much.
  • Mood swings and uncontrollable emotions – intense feelings of sadness that don't go away.
  • Irritability – frequently feeling angry or frustrated.
  • Feelings of worthlessness – having a low self esteem and thinking about your failures and shortcomings. Having thoughts like, 'I can't do anything right' or 'everything goes wrong for me'.
  • Appetite and weight problems – loss of appetite and weight loss, or overeating and weight gain.
  • Feeling guilty – blaming yourself, feeling ashamed or thinking that you're letting people down.
  • Difficulty concentrating – having trouble focusing, making decisions or remembering things.
  • Withdrawal – shutting yourself off from other people or avoiding connecting with others.
  • Physical symptoms – experiencing aches, pains, headaches, muscle tension, cramps or digestive problems.
  • Thinking about death – many people with depression experience suicidal thoughts. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviours. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

When should you get help?

Everyone feels down from time to time, but if you're experiencing depressive symptoms that don't go away, it's important to seek help.

When you have depression it may be hard to ask for help. It's important to remember that you're not alone – 1 in 16 people in Australia are currently experiencing depression. Depression is treatable, and getting help sooner can lead to better outcomes.

You should see your doctor when:

  • You're feeling sad, teary or low most of the time
  • You've been experiencing symptoms for more than 2 weeks
  • You're finding hard to cope at home, work or school
  • You're using alcohol or drugs to cope

Where to get support for depression

Talking with your GP is a good place to start. They may refer you to a mental health professional who can give you specialised support and tools to cope.

Staying connected with family and friends is important. If you don't feel comfortable talking to them about your symptoms, you could try calling a mental health helpline.

Support groups are a good way to meet others who are going through a similar experience to you.

If you're having trouble finding work or staying in your job because of depression, you can get support from APM. We specialise in finding jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability, including mental health conditions.

We can also help you with workplace accommodations, accessing mental health services and overcoming any barriers you might be facing finding work or holding down a job.

For more information about working and coping with depression, read our guide to finding a job with depression.

Supporting job seekers with depression

APM is one of Australia's leading providers of employment services for people with depression.

We believe everyone is capable of work. If you're living with depression and want to find a job, we’re here to help.

APM delivers the Disability Employment Services program in over 500 locations across Australia.

Our committed and experienced employment consultants want to hear your story. They want to focus on you, not your depression.

By getting to know you, they can get a clearer picture of where you're at and find solutions to manage or overcome your challenges.

We’re interested in your abilities, your strengths and what you want to accomplish.

With over 25 years' experience helping people find and stay in employment, we’ve seen first-hand the value, health benefits and independence a secure job can bring.

We’re committed to helping people with depression reach their goals and improve their lives. Register now to begin your employment journey.

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Sharon | 54 | Hand injury

"It's given me my self-
esteem back"

Chanay | 22 | Hearing impairment

"I was so excited, I couldn't
wait to get started"

Shannon | 33 | Down syndrome


Your personal job plan

APM helps job seekers success in their search with tailored job support and guidance.

Identify your strengths

  • It's important to identify and communicate your strengths to potential employers and we understand that many individuals with depression have unique strengths that can be valuable in the workforce.
  • At APM, we have a team of experienced career consultants who can help you to identify your strengths and them to suitable job opportunities.
  • Our goal is to help you find a job that suits your skills and interests, and we are committed to supporting you throughout the entire process.

Building a job around you

  • Explore realistic job options where you can succeed
  • Develop a personal strategy that includes job searches, resumes and interviews
  • Discuss your support needs with your employer
  • Look at any requirements for equipment or workplace modifications to help you perform a specific job
  • Consider what support you might need when you start working


APM works with Centrelink and the government to deliver Disability Employment Services.

When you register with APM, we check your eligibility for the program and help you get started.

We guide you through the Centrelink process and your initial assessment which decides your capacity for employment and suitability for the program.

Then we set your first appointment with a dedicated APM Employment Consultant who will spend time getting to know you, understanding the challenges you face, and setting up a plan on how you can achieve your goals.

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4 steps to making a positive change in
your life



Register with us and we'll
be in touch in the next
couple of days to discuss.



Meet your dedicated
Employment Consultant
at your nearest APM


Talk to

Discuss your disability or
health condition, and
employment needs.



Your employment journey

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Our support doesn't
stop when you start

We make your transition into your new role as smooth as possible and help you deal with any problems that might arise early on.

Our committed employment consultants spend time helping you settle into your new workplace and assist with any on-the-job training where required.

We'll work with you to develop a support plan which is tailored to your circumstances and the needs of your employer.

We'll support you for the first six months of employment in a manner that best suits you.

Should you require further support beyond the first six months of work, we’ll discuss the available options with you.

Our service is funded by the Australian Government to help you achieve your employment goals.

We aim to help you reach a good level of independence and enjoy a successful, productive life at work, at no cost to you or your employer.


Other advice that may help you find a job

How to find work while living with depression

In this guide, you will find a range of topics and tools to help you look for work while living with depression.

Top 3 benefits of work for people with depression

The benefits of work for people with depression may seem obvious, but when dark clouds surround us, it’s helpful to remind ourselves of these simple and positive lessons.

Rewarding job ideas for people living with depression

Read our guide about the eight of the most rewarding jobs for those living with depression and want to get in, or back to the work force.