What is Depression?
It is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Symptoms can vary and it may affect the 5 major aspects of live.
- Sleep : trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Meals : changes in appetite, resulting in weight loss or weight gain
- Interests : loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Physical state: loss of energy, increased fatigue,
- Emotional state: feeling sad or depressed , feeling worthless or guilty, thoughts of self harm or suicide
Depression affects an estimated of 1 in 15 adults. 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some point of their life.
Risk Factors of Depression
Depression runs in the family. If one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70% chance of getting depression.
People with low self-esteem , who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make people vulnerable to depression
Depression Is among the most treatable of mental disorders. 80-90% of people with depression respond well to treatment.
Treatment for Depression
Antidepressants may help to modify one’s brain chemistry. It may result in improvement in patient’s emotion and general well-being.
There will be a need to take the medications until improvement of symptoms and a further 6-12 months to reduce the recurrence of the condition.
Cognitive behaviour therapy or “ talk therapy “
It may be used on its own, or together with medications in the treatment of depression. Cognitive behaviour therapy is a form of dialogue with a trained professional which focused on the present and problem solving.
It helps a person to recognise distorted thinking and then change behaviours and thinking. Multiple sessions over a few weeks to months is necessary to build a relationship and to gradually improve the thought-behaviour loop of the patient.
Self help and coping
Self help is very important in the treatment of depression
- Regular exercise helps create positive feeling and improve mood. It may also help to improve sleep issues.
- Eating a healthy diet is essential
- Avoid alcohol ( which is essentially a depressant ) can also help reduce symptoms of depression.
- Depression is a real illness and always remember that help is available. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression - take that first step to reach out to someone and tell him or her you are depressed.
Remember, it can be treated. Reaching out is the first step to recovery.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)
By : Dr Shawn Ee
BSc. BPsych. DPsych.(Clinical), Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist