Depression is a common condition which is often not diagnosed. Depression is more than feeling sad or stressed. It’s when you feel like you just can’t cope, or don’t want to do your normal things anymore. When these feelings go on for weeks you may be depressed.
The unique factors and experience that can affect farming life can contribute to the development of depression and may also mean it goes untreated. These can include:
Being in the habit of ‘working it out yourself’, which makes it difficult to seek help when it’s difficult to cope.
Isolation and limited access to services.
Finding it difficult to approach local health workers because you may know them socially.
Practical issues to do with leaving the farm to seek help.
Financial, climate related and other pressures that seem to become insurmountable.
Learn to recognise the symptoms so you seek help when you need it.
Some signs of depression (these may vary between individuals) can be recognised by people’s:
Behaviour: social withdrawal, poor concentration, reliance on alcohol, inability to achieve tasks
Emotions: guilt, frustration, defeat, sadness
Thoughts: failure, feeling a burden on others, worthlessness
There is a strong link between excessive alcohol consumption and depression. Self-medication with alcohol is a common, but unsafe and ineffective coping strategy for farmers and other people living in rural and remote areas. Alcohol only masks the symptoms of depression and stress, and can make you feel worse. Support services can assist country people to find other ways to tackle depression.