It can come in the form of sleepless nights, worrying needlessly. For others, they can feel despair, hopelessness and guilt that they do not need to feel. Sometimes it is just feeling pain, mental or physical, when there is no reason for it. Friends and family may notice them pulling away, isolating, and being by themselves more often. To the outside world, it looks like they have just given up. This is the experience of people struggling with depression.

Depression: The Basics

Depression is a term that is thrown around a lot, and people have gotten many different ideas of what depression is, and what it is not. Some of this is correct, but there are still some errors in the way people think about depression. Let’s take some time to clear this up, so that we can be most helpful to anyone seeking help for depression in Singapore.

One of the most important things to understand about depression is actually what it isn’t. Everyone gets sad or has down days. This really is part of being human. Feeling sad when something tragic or upsetting happens is normal. If a person has a car accident, it’s normal to feel upset, scared and overwhelmed, and to be expected. Sometimes it’s even healthy to feel sad and upset.

That is not major depressive disorder, the full clinical term for depression. When someone is struggling and there is a clear reason for it, that is not a clinical depression. Depression is when someone is feeling down, upset, and overwhelmed for a period of time for no obvious reason. So yes, if a person had a loved one die, then they are depressed, but they do not have depression. Treatment for this kind of depression in Singapore is available.

Depression is often a medical illness. It is thought to be a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. When there are not enough certain neurochemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, a person tends to be more depressed, sluggish and withdrawn. This is often the cause of major depressive disorder. That is why searching for a psychiatrist in Singapore can be necessary to treat depression.

Symptoms and Treatment

Now, as we said, major depressive disorder is a medical illness, and is diagnosed by looking at the symptoms a person is presenting. In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person we see has to have a number of symptoms that have been present for at least two weeks, and there is no reasonable cause for them, like a loss or trauma.

Depression is thought of as a whole body illness. That means it impacts every aspect of a person’s life. It is not just feeling sad or down, it is a wide spectrum of symptoms across every area of a person’s life. This mean depression impacts a person’s physical and mental health, but also their employment, their social life, their family life and their spiritual life. Depression changes everything.

The American Psychiatric Association publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.), the general guideline for most mental illnesses, and this even informs the practice of mental health in Singapore. According to the DSM-5, major depressive disorder needs at least three symptoms from the group listed. Also, the symptoms must last for at least two weeks, again without any cause. Let’s  look at the symptom list for major depressive disorder:

  • Feeling sad, depressed, upset, or having no mood at all
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Unexplained changes in appetite with weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Insomnia, or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy
  • Unexplained physical problems, aches, pains
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or remembering things
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

This describes most current thoughts about depression fairly well. It impacts every area of a person’s life. A person who feels worthless and guilty will start to avoid others, for example, and pull back from going to social activities. The aches and pains of depression, including stomach aches and problems with digestion, will put them in their doctor’s office more often. Worst of all, thoughts of suicide can even put someone’s life at risk because of depression.

It does not have to be this way. Seeking mental health treatment and a psychiatrist in Singapore is something that can help anyone overcome depression. Seeing a psychiatrist can help manage the medical aspect of depression. They can prescribe antidepressant medication that can help increase the neurochemicals in the brain that are thought to be lacking. They can also prescribe medication and try other interventions to help with the other symptoms, like problems sleeping.

Treatment is more than just medication, however. Talking with a therapist or psychologist in Singapore can do a lot to improve how a person thinks and feels. Talk therapy, as it’s called, can help a person manage some of the negative thoughts a person can develop when they have depression. It’s like having a bad habit, a person can start thinking negatively when they have depression, and just through simple repetition of the thought, it becomes habit and believed. Even when it’s not true, depression can make people think some awful things about themselves and others. Using talk therapy, we can help.

Perhaps most importantly, we want people struggling to seek support from us and from others in their life. Relying on friends and family can be important when a person is managing depression. Certain days just having someone to talk to, even just for a few minutes, can be enough to help keep a person struggling with depression going. Mental health support and family support can be enough to help someone through depression.

Seeking Help

Depression can be painful, but it does not have to be that way forever. In fact, depression is quite treatable with modern tools and techniques. We can help with this. Our mental health clinic at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic can help people overcome depression, and live life symptoms free.

Seeking help is often not easy. It can be embarrassing or scary to have to admit to being depressed. We understand, and know what it is like in the community, and will work to help both compassionately and confidentially. Our team of psychologists and psychiatrists in Singapore will be there to help every step of the way. We just need you to contact us.

By Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic