It can slowly creep up on you or hit you all at once, triggered by stressful moments in life or by an unexpected event. That feeling of worthlessness, guilt, and sadness that can cast a cloud over everything you think, feel, and do.
Find out what the warning signs of depression are, and how family members, support groups or mental health professionals can provide the help you need.
Depression or Angst?
When we feel depressed, we might want to tell ourselves to “get over it!” or “this is just a phase!”. We might even think that feeling depressed comes from some sort of flaw within themselves, something that they can’t explain but that they just need to figure out on their own.
But the truth is, depression is an illness—not a personality trait. Like chronic illnesses, depression can be treated.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
First, you should be sure that you are, in fact, depressed. Everyone experiences sadness or doubt at some point, even people who seem to have everything under control. Clinical depression, as in a medically-diagnosed condition, is usually something that lasts much longer.
Here are some common warning signs or symptoms of depression include:
- Social withdrawal and loss of interest in pleasurable activities, e.g. withdrawing from family members and other social activities
- Poor sleep or sleep problems
- Loss of appetite or increased appetite
- Feelings of guilt and a sense of hopelessness
- Poor concentration at school
- If these feelings grow over time, they should not be ignored. And if they turn to suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.
How to Deal with Depression
Reaching out can seem like a huge challenge, especially for people with depression. You might fear your friends and family won’t understand what you are feeling and how serious the problem is, or that they will think less of you for not being able to handle these problems by yourself.
Once you realise no one will think any less of you, that no one thinks developing depression is a result of some weakness, then it’ll be really easy to discuss things with someone you trust.
Just remember that no matter what anyone says, having depression doesn’t mean you’re a weak or bad person – it’s an illness preventing you from being who you really are.
The good news is that there are many ways to get help and learn how to overcome depression
A lot has been learned about depression in the last decade, and there are plenty of resources that explain what depression is, the different types of depression, and how it affects us.
The Health Promotion Board’s article on depression is a good place to start. There’s a good chance your friends, teachers, parents and doctor know more about this illness than you might think! But if you want their help, you will need to take a leap of faith by letting them know what’s going on.
Not everyone has a strong support network that they can trust, and not everyone is ready to talk about depression face to face with people they know, and that is FINE. Instead, try speaking with someone anonymously by taking advantage of the resources available in Singapore, like the National CARE hotline (8:00 am to midnight: 1800-202-6868, for any issues that you are worried about, be it stress over finances, marital and family tensions, or on COVID-19 and its impact on your personal and family lives), Samaritans Of Singapore (24 Hours: 1800-221-4444) and Mental Health Helpline (24 Hours: 6389-2222). These people know their stuff when it comes to depression, and any conversation you have with them is free and confidential. It’s a great way to break the ice and to build up your confidence in discussing depression with others.
The Internet itself is also one resource for learning more about depression, with tons of social networks, support groups, online forums, and web resources devoted to helping people struggling with depression.
Do remember that it is important to seek help from mental health professionals. If you don’t know where to find professional help, you can start with the Institute of Mental Health.
You Don’t Have to Get Over Depression Alone
When major depression hits, all of those feelings are magnified and can seem overwhelming. But in that moment when nothing seems to make sense anymore, remember that is also the moment when you need to make yourself heard.
By communicating with others, face-to-face, on the phone, or online, you are taking a huge first step toward recovery. No one, not even the world, can take that away from you. To fully overcome depression may take months or even years, but once you start you’ll become closer with your friends and family, you’ll enjoy your hobbies and activities more, and you’ll be ready to realise your full potential.
So get on out there, connect with your support network and start making a difference in your life today!