Depression is an illness that hits farmers and their families hard. Taking time to become aware of the signs and symptoms of depression can help you, your family and your community. Early detection and early intervention is the key, so stay connected and watch out for your mates.
The pressures of farming life can take their toll on your mental health, especially in times of drought, flood and financial pressure. You need to know what to look out for, and what to do if you or someone you know is depressed or suicidal.
Symptoms of depression include:
Low self esteem
Little motivation or energy
Insomnia, difficulty sleeping and feeling tired
Difficulty concentrating or keeping focus
Inability to control your emotions – especially negative ones
You don’t enjoy life and avoid socialising and doing things that previously made you happy
Changes in appetite and weight or decreased libido.
Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. Second generation cattle farmer Steve from Trangie says it is ‘something to own and recognise in order to get help and live your life more positively’. Watch Steve’s story.
What to do if you think you may be suffering from depression
Here are four things you can do if you suspect you may be depressed:
talk to your family and friends and tell them how you are feeling.
speak to your doctor.
look for information and support online
complete Beyond Blue’s depression checklist
If you feel suicidal, call for help immediately. Speak to your doctor, friends or family, or one of the 24 hour helplines listed:
Managing the pressures of farming is a resource developed by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety. The simple checklists help you identify and manage the most difficult pressures on your business, your family and yourself.
The SafeWork NSW Pressures on farmers fact sheet will help you deal with mental health issues.
The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health provides a list of contacts to get help with issues that impact your mental health on its support web page.
Beyond Blue has a number of services available for men in rural and remote areas.
Watch Steve’s story.
For tips and assistance for managing mental health issues, check out The Land’s Glove Box Guide to Mental Health.
If your gut says something’s not quite right with someone, chances are they might need a bit of extra support. Get some practical tips on how to ask R U OK?
Learn more about the support services available to help you stay alive and well.
As well as listening to stories on this site, talk to others on your farm about how you can help each other stay alive and well.