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Depression

It is normal to experience emotional changes. However, unduly severe pessimism or sadness may be an indication of illness ------ depression.

Causes of depression:

  • Familial and genetic influences
  • Life/ work stress
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Maladaptive stress coping strategies (e.g. refusing to face problem, evading problem, using alcohol or medication to numb oneself, being pessimistic, etc.)
  • Lack of social support

Common signs and symptoms of depression :
(When they are persistent for over two weeks and affect normal daily functioning)

A. Emotional:

  • Sad/ depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in ordinary activities or hobbies
  • Negative/ pessimistic thinking
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt
  • Nervousness, irritability, anxiety

B. Physical:

  • Emotional disturbance such as anxiety, sense of insecurity, shame and embarrassment
  • Reduced social activities
  • Weakened interpersonal relationships as a result of social withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem: feeling of low self-worth, helplessness and loss of control
  • Reduced sexual activities due to possible embarrassment

C. Cognitive:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Diminished ability to think
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inappropriate self-blame and guilt
  • Suicidal thought

D. Behavioral:

  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Psychomotor agitation and/ or retardation
  • Untidy or disheveled physical appearance
  • Low in energy, inability to enjoy life
  • Failure to fulfill duties

Treatment of depression:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Self-help:

  • Regular exercise
  • Develop interests/ hobbies
  • Active social life
  • Good dietary/ eating habits
  • Good sleep habits
  • Adaptive stress coping strategies (e.g. facing source of stress, sharing worries with family and friends)
  • Positive thinking and positive attitude towards life's difficulties

Depression, if left untreated, affects both physical and mental health, or worse, may lead to suicide. Therefore seek help if in doubt; and persuade those who are depressed to get help.