The Black Dog

The term "black dog" is often used to describe a state of depression, characterised by the lack of will to do anything, including things you once loved. This metaphor is of a large, intrusive black dog following a bloke around bringing hardships into their lives, rather than delving into a complex conversation about mental health and depression.

The term is said to have originated with Winston Churchill, but for years the good men of Blokes Advice have carried forward the Black Dog to create a way of talking about depression and dodging the negative stigma some blokes feel about the clinical terms. BA is all about brother helping brothers, so communicating in a way that make us all feel comfortable is paramount.

How does depression work?

Depression is a mood disorder, wherein the body and brain do not produce the "feel-good" chemicals required to effectively regulate mood, sleep, regulate appetite, and clear thoughts. Symptoms include apathy, under or oversleeping, loss of interest in food, too great an interest in food, muscle weakness, thoughts of suicide or despair, and irritability. These are just a few of the symptoms ascribed to depression, and they can all be either mild or severe or a patchwork of both.

Although periods of sadness, anger, or apathy are normal in people who have experienced a sudden loss, a traumatic event, or similar, persistent feelings of sadness, anger, and apathy – those that last at least two weeks– may be attributed to depression. Depression may initially be mild (called Major Depressive Disorder), but without treatment, symptoms can grow worse and develop into a chronic condition called Persistent Depressive Disorder, which means that a depressive state has continued for at least two years.

How is depression treated?

There are many treatment options for depression but typically, the first type of treatment is therapy. Talking with a therapist is a great starting place as it allows you to describe what you are going through and better understand your own experiences and needs. Talk therapy is also likely to be the source of diagnosis, and plan to get you feeling like yourself again. This kind of therapy include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which seeks to reset unhealthy or unproductive patterns of thinking to improve overall mental health and stability.

In Australia you have access to a Medical Health Treatment Plan, which is essentially the government subsiding therapy sessions through Medicare. You will need to talk to a local GP about getting a referral for this plan. Alternatively, it is worth talking to you workplace as many employers have services availably for their teams.


Everyone’s mental health varies during their life, and even on those days where everything seems overwhelming, believe us that you are not alone. Reaching out for support in tough times does not make you weak, crazy, or less of a bloke - and we can guarantee you it is the first step to significantly improving your life.

If you recognise that you could use a hand, take that first step and become a better, happier, and healthier you.

Click here to find a professional to help

All advice and information on BA by its administrators and members is given in good faith. The advice is the opinions of our members and is not professional in nature. You should consider if this information is right for you and seek advice from professional services if necessary. Blokes Advice Co Pty Ltd does not accept legal liability or responsibility for the content of the advice or information or any consequences arising from its use.