Today, mental health issues like depression still aren’t that well-understood. You lack will power. It’s all in your head. Just snap out of it. Get over it. These are flippant remarks people tend to say to someone who appears depressed. Depression is not a switch that you can turn on or off in an instant. It’s a real condition that requires proper treatment. What are the signs of depression? Can you overcome depression? We look at some of the warning signs and share some tips on how to fight depression.
What is depression?
Depression isn’t a fancy term for feeling sad. It’s in fact a mental condition that can affect the way you think and behave. It’s normal to feel sad every now and then. Sadness is a natural emotion that you might feel in life events such as losing a loved one, experiencing relationship issues or losing your job.
However, if you have depression, the sadness doesn’t simply go away. It can linger on and begin to affect your daily functioning. The prolonged sadness starts to affect your interest in activities, work and relationships. Ultimately, depression can ruin your quality of life.
It’s estimated that 6.3% of the Singaporean population is affected by depression, and it’s likely that the actual number could be much higher since a lot of cases go undetected. After all, many people tend to shy away from discussing mental health. They consider it a taboo and feel ashamed to talk about it.
While depression isn’t something you can just brush off or will away, don’t lose hope! The good news is that depression, like all illnesses, can be treated. It’s first important to detect the typical signs of depression early so you can move on and take concrete steps to deal with it.
Depression signs to look out for
Getting help early is one of the best ways to fight depression, and the first step is to spot the warning signs as soon as possible.
We’ve put together a useful list of signs of depression. If you experience, or notice someone experiencing five or more of these symptoms almost every day for two weeks or longer, you or that someone might be suffering from depression.
The person becomes quiet, seeks solitude or cries regularly. Keep a lookout for puffy eyes and a generally moody demeanour.
The individual faces difficulty falling asleep or may wake up often. In some cases, the person may be sleeping too much.
Changes in appetite
A sudden increase or decrease in appetite. Look out for drastic weight gain or weight loss in a short span of time.
Inability to focus
The person suddenly faces problems with concentration. He or she has trouble making decisions, remembering things or staying focused.
Agitation and restlessness
Easily agitated, restless or even violent. The individual suddenly has a low level of tolerance and tends to snap at the smallest things.
This refers to a loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed, and can also be described as an inability to feel joy and pleasure.
Feeling worthless and having excessive guilt, the person starts becoming overly self-critical, sometimes to the point of hating him or herself.
Loss of energy, as well as feeling sluggish and physically drained. The sufferer becomes easily exhausted by the simplest tasks or always seems tired.
The world feels like a bleak place to the person. He or she feels hopeless, helpless or defeated.
The individual starts to feel physical pain in the body, with complaints about headaches, back pain, aching muscles or stomach pain.
The key to identifying depression is to keep track of the signs. These signs may not all appear at once. Furthermore, some may be sporadic while others may last longer.
You can keep track of the signs of depression over the course of a week or longer through a simple tracker like this:
|Changes in appetite|
|Inability to focus||✔|
|Anhedonia(loss of joy)|
|Self-loathing and guilt|
|Fatigue or tiredness||✔|
If you see multiple checks across any five behaviours or more over the course of two weeks, consult a medical professional for help. Don’t hesitate or wait too long to seek treatment.
How to fight depression
Overcoming depression isn’t easy. Nonetheless, there are several techniques to fight depression and improve your situation if you’re suffering from it.
Take part in activities you enjoy
This might be difficult if you have signs of anhedonia (inability to feel joy). However, partaking in activities that you usually enjoy can be a positive step. It can also help lend some perspective and give your life some sense of purpose.
Engaging in activities you enjoy can also lift your mood. This is especially true for physical activity like sports and exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins in your body, a chemical that can promote a sense of well-being and trigger positive feelings. And this is just one out of a few ways that exercise can help your depression.
Here are some activities you could try participating more in:
- Engage in physical activity such as a favourite sport
- Set aside time for yourself to relax, whether it’s reading a book or enjoying a movie
- Spend more time with family and friends
It’s also advisable to eat a balanced diet and get sufficient sleep.
Talk to someone
Engaging in social activity is another way to fight and overcome depression. Reach out to family and friends to talk about your feelings. They don’t even need to have an answer for your problems. Simply engaging with people and voicing out your troubles can help you feel supported and less down.
If you feel ashamed to talk about depression with loved ones, there are several mental health hotlines you can call. You can talk to counsellors or volunteers who can provide advice on how to fight depression and the available treatments in Singapore.
Here are some useful hotlines.
|SOS (Samaritans of Singapore)||1800 221 4444||Daily||24 hours|
|SAF Hotline (For SAF Personnel)||1800 278 0022||Daily||24 hours|
|Youth Line||6336 3434||Monday–Friday||8.30am to 6.00pm|
|Touch Line||1800 377 2252||Daily||10.00am to 10.00pm|
|Tinkle Friend(For primary school students)||1800 2744 4788||Monday–Friday||9.30am to 11.30am2.30pm to 5.00pm|
|Metoyou Cyber Counselling||6445 0100||Monday–Friday||2.00pm to 6.00pm|
|Brahm Centre’s AssistLine||6655 0000||Monday–Friday||Office hours, 9.00am to 6.00pm|
|8823 0000(call/whatsapp)||Monday–Sunday||During & After office hours|
Seek professional help
While it’s helpful to gain knowledge on how to fight depression, it’s also important to get a proper depression diagnosis from a mental health professional. With a proper diagnosis, a mental health professional can advise you on what course of treatment would serve you best.
Treating depression usually involves some form of therapy. This can come in the form of seeing a psychiatrist as well as psychotherapist to establish a change in unhealthy behavioural patterns.
In severe cases where the patient is violent or has attempted suicide, medication may be necessary. Prescribed drugs aren’t a long-term solution. They usually work best with therapy.
At the end of the day, depression isn’t something that goes away on its own. If left untreated, the symptoms of depression can worsen and lead to suicidal thoughts. Don’t be embarrassed to get help to overcome your depression.