Cars For Hope aims to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness within the automotive community. By informing and educating about the issues associated with depression, anxiety and self-injury, we believe the stigma surrounding them can be reduced.


What is depression?

Depression is a common and serious mental disorder which affects over 1 million Australians every year(1) and over 350 million people in a lifetime(2). Everyone experiences a time where we feel sad or down, but depression is more than this. It involves very intense feelings of sadness, loneliness or emptiness often for no reason at all and for long periods of time and may lead to things including thoughts of self injury or suicide or even the fulfilment of these thoughts.

What are the signs that someone may be experiencing depression?

Depression can become an illness when the signs and symptoms of depression have lasted for over 2 weeks and has led to the deterioration in one’s ability to function mentally and physically.

The most common signs and symptoms of depression include(3):

  • Severe feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Lack of motivation in everyday activities
  • Changes in sleeping patterns or insomnia
  • Loss of appetite or dramatic changes in weight
  • Restlessness or moodiness

Can depression be fixed?

Depression is almost always treatable. With the correct treatment and support, approximately 80% of people who have been diagnosed with depression and treated for it can return to live their previous lives(4). For further information on the treatment of depression and how to find help, please refer to our Find Help page.


What is anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is a phenomenon whereby one will experience feelings of panic or distress in a typically normal situation. While it is common for people to feel these emotions in a stressful situation, a continuation in these feelings when the trigger has subsided may be signs of an anxiety disorder. On average, 1 in every 4 people in Australia will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime(1).

How is it different to depression?

As with depression, anxiety can inhibit a person to live their everyday lives and can also affect a person’s mental and physical capability. However, anxiety disorders are generally characterised more by fear, vulnerability and doubt of what may happen, compared to depression which is characterised by feelings in response to what a person knows has or will happen.

The most common anxiety disorders include(1):

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Phobias

Can anxiety be fixed in the same way as depression?

Although like depression there are many avenues of obtaining help for those suffering from anxiety disorder, the approach that must be taken to treat anxiety is different. It is important to find the right medical professional or service to suit the needs of one who is suffering from anxiety disorder as opposed to depression. Please refer to our Find Help page for more information on where and how to find help about anxiety disorder.


What is self-injury?

Self-injury is usually defined as someone physically harming themselves intentionally either externally(5), such as cutting or burning the skin, or internally, such as ingesting a sharp object or toxic substance. It is often linked with mental disorders including depression and anxiety and is estimated that almost 10% of Australians have self-injured at least once in their lives(5) and 14-24% of people have self-injured worldwide(6).

Why do people self-injure?

Self-injury can occur due to multiple reasons. Although self-injury can sometimes result in life-threatening bodily harm or death, it is not often carried out with the intent of suicide. There are misconceptions that self-injury is an attempt at seeking attention or that it is simply a phase, but this is not the case(6). Instead, many engage in self-injury as a coping mechanism for intense feelings and emotions.

Resources:

(1) Depression and Anxiety: An Information Booklet, beyondblue, 2012.
(2) Fact Sheet No. 369, Depression, World Health Organization, 2012.
(3) Depression Explained, Black Dog Institute, 2013.
(4) Major Depression: Fact Sheet, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 2009.
(5) Self-Harm, Lifeline (Australia), 2012.
(6) Self-Injury, General Information Guide, Self-Injury Outreach & Support (SIOS), 2012.