Reading the signs
In Singapore, depression is ranked as one of the top three mental health disorders according to findings from a mental health study conducted in 2010 by the Institute of Mental Health. The same study also found that as many as 1 in 17 people have suffered from depression at some point in their life.
Singhealth defines depression as a feeling of sadness that lasts for weeks to months, even years, interfering with one’s daily activities. While most people can recognise signs of depression like a heavy veil of sadness and hopelessness, there are also less obvious signs like weight gain and becoming short-tempered.
Scroll through the gallery for 7 tell-tale signs of depression you don’t want to miss.
While depression is a mental issue, it is not just all in the head and can manifest itself in physical symptoms like headache, backache, stomach ache joint ache, and muscle ache.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found attributes this to the shared common neuro-chemical pathway (influenced by serotonin and norepinephrine) between depression and pain.
Significant weight gain or weight loss
According to a research published in the Frontiers in Psychology, some people may lose weight when they are depressed because the desire for food may almost totally disappear.
The same research also noted that some people with depression might also gain weight because they might seek out comfort foods (typically steeped in fat and sugar) and eat to experience pleasure (hedonic hunger), not simply to satiety or meet the energy needs of the body.
Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
Another sign of depression is a loss in interest or pleasure in the activities that he or she used to be passionate about.
The author of the book, “Understanding Depression”, psychologist Dr. Paul R Robbins, wrote that the person may just go through the motion or stop altogether because “what was important and fulfilling in her ( or his) life had lost its meaning”.
Suicidal thoughts are another sign of depression. These thoughts could be expressed verbally in a direct and unmistakable fashion with statements bidding farewell such as “take care of me when I’m gone”.
Sometimes, these thoughts are expressed in a less explicit manner and are not easily recognisable. The possibility of suicide in depression should be handled delicately and taken seriously.
Figures from “Understanding Depression” show that people with serious depression are 15 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or know someone who is thinking about suicide, you can contact the Samaritans of Singapore at 1800-221-4444 for help.
If getting out of bed in the morning seems like an impossible task and the rest of the day seems to drag on like a clock going in slow motion, you might be suffering from depression. When you are depressed, you might experience lethargy because of the common underlying neurobiology shared between fatigue and depression.
According to Dr. Fave Maurizio, an expert in the field of depression and author of the article “Fatigue as a Residual Symptom of Depression” said that apathy, emotional disturbances along with diminished focus can also occur as a consequence of fatigue
Always losing your temper
Find yourself blowing a fuse over the slightest things? It’s probably more than a rough day at work.
A US National Institute of Mental Health study conducted with 500 people with depression between the years of 1978 and 1981 found that overt irritability and anger were present in 54 per cent of the patients with severe depression and longer-lasting depression.
Drinking more than usual
When you are depressed, it is tempting and easy to slip into the habit of using alcohol as a form of medication to feel better for a few hours. Unfortunately, drinking can actually exacerbate conditions like depression and introduce a whole new set of problems like memory loss, depression and anxiety.
Plus, drinking can also cause you to feel lethargic. Here’s why. According to the Health Promotion Board, women should drink no more than one standard drink (with 10 grams of alcohol) a day and men should limit themselves to two standard drinks per day.
The dark days will be over
While depression is most certainly not something that you can snap out of, it is far from hopeless. Trust us when we say that there is good help out there that can help you to overcome this state. If you are battling depression, the first step is to meet a medical professional who can help you to tackle the condition head on.
Once you’ve consulted your healthcare professional, he might recommend strategies like medication (antidepressants) or psychotherapy. Depression does not define who you are, it is learning to live through it and finding hope in moments that might seem hopeless.
For more information on depression, visit the Singhealth website.
Text: Letty Seah/Herworld