Depression – the facts


Depression is a common condition which is not always identified and diagnosed and affects men, women and young people. 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 may seem insurmountable.
  • Particularly for rural women, isolation, exhaustion and postnatal depression are some of the most common contributing factors to poor mental health.

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
  • Physical signs: fatigue, disturbed sleep, headaches, digestive problems
Rural issues – alcohol and depression
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.
Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:
Clinical care:
Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD)
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
Research & reviews:
Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
World Health Organization (WHO)
Fast facts

Last updated: 7th December, 2017