"We all feel sad from time to time. But when this sadness never seems to fade away, it might be a symptom of depression. Knowing how to spot depression can help protect you and your loved ones. With early detection, you can beat the blues."
What is depression?
Depression is more than feeling down or being sad. Depression may affect your work, interest in activities and quality of life. It is not a sign of weakness and it does not just 'go away'. Depression can happen to anyone.
Depression is a medical condition that affects how you think and behave, and the way you feel and function. It is one of the most common mental health problems and is faced by over 121 million people worldwide1. In Singapore, an estimated 5.6% of the population are affected by depression during their lifetime2.
Learn more about myths and common misconceptions about depression.
How to recognise depression
Depression is different from normal sadness as it interferes with your day-to-day life making it hard for you to work, rest and have fun. People with depression experience five (5) or more of the following symptoms almost every day, for two weeks or longer:
Risk factors for depression
Challenging life events can increase your risk of depression especially when you find it difficult to cope with them. Some of the life stressors that can increase the risk of depression may include:
Reducing your risk for depression
The risk for depression can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your mental well-being. Having a positive mental well-being will help you manage life challenges, solve problems and achieve your goals, thereby reducing the overall vulnerability to mental health problems.
Of the various mental disorders, depression is one of the most treatable. The World Health Organization estimates that treatment is effective for 60-80% of those affected1.
Depression can be managed using a range of different strategies including medication, counselling or psychological intervention and lifestyle changes. Treatment plans may differ, depending on the individual's symptoms and personal and medical history. As depression presents a range of symptoms that relate to our physical functioning, thinking, feelings and behavior, a combination of strategies are often employed to address these different aspects.
Medications used to treat depression are known as antidepressants. They help to regulate mood and can only be prescribed by a doctor. On average, antidepressants require three to four weeks of regular dosages before the full treatment benefit will be experienced. Even when used regularly, antidepressants are not addictive.
Counselling or psychological intervention can also help individuals cope with life stressors and reduce the symptoms of depression. These sessions focus on teaching positive styles of thinking, managing our emotions and how to deal with the symptoms of depression and day-to-day challenges. Counselling and psychological interventions may also equip people with the knowledge and skills to optimise their mental well-being, identify the early warning signs of depression and prevent further periods of depression.
When and where to seek help
There are many treatment and support options available for people who may be suffering from depression. It is recommended that you seek help once the symptoms begin to interfere with one or more aspects of your life (e.g. withdrawal from friends and social activities, decreased ability to concentrate and make decisions at work etc).
Depression is highly treatable and is most effectively managed through early detection and treatment. The earlier you seek treatment the more effective the treatment will be. Thus, it is preferable to approach your general practitioner once you experience symptoms that concern you, even if you are unsure. If you think that someone close to you may be showing signs of depression, you could speak to the person and encourage him or her to see a doctor. With early detection and help, you can beat the blues
Here's a list of mental health support services available in Singapore.
1 World Health Organization
2 National Mental Health Survey (NMHS), 2004
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Boon Lay - Boon Lay Shopping Centre, 221 Boon Lay Place #01-152, Singapore 640221, Tel: 62611580
Bukit Batok - Blk 630 Bukit Batok Central #01-148, Singapore 650630, Tel: 65636913
Bukit Gombak MRT - 802 Bukit Batok West Avenue 5 #01-16, Singapore 659083, Tel: 62558472
Bukit Panjang - Blk 547 Segar Road #01-05, Singapore 670547, Tel: 62508533
Canberra - Blk 105 Canberra Street, #01-09 Singapore 750105 Tel: 62513778
Choa Chu Kang - Blk 810, Choa Chu Kang Ave 7 #01-09, Singapore 680810, Tel: 67666146
Hougang - Blk 104 Hougang Ave 1 #01-1125, Singapore 530104, Tel: 65250325
Loyang Point - 258 Pasir Ris Street 21 #02-14, Singapore 510258, Tel: 63857435
Marine Parade - 81 Marine Parade Central #01-644, Singapore 440081, Tel: 63441620
Punggol Plaza - 168 Punggol Field, #02-09A Punggol Plaza, Singapore 820168, Tel: 69043511
Raffles Place - One Raffles Place, 1 Raffles Place #04-12, Singapore 048616, Tel: 65322692
Tampines - 827 Tampines Street 81 #01-142, Singapore 520827, Tel: 6443 5938
Tampines MRT - 20 Tampines Central 1 #01-27 , Singapore 529538 Tel: 67853702
Tiong Bahru - 11A Boon Tiong Road #01-08, Singapore 161011, Tel: 63582568
Woodlands - 4, Woodlands Street 12 #02-57, Singapore 738623 Tel: 63632919
Yishun - Blk 431 Yishun Ave 1 #01-04, Singapore 760431, Tel: 63342373
Aljunied MRT - 81 Lorong 25 Geylang, #01-03 Aljunied MRT, Singapore 388310, Tel: 69045871
Ang Mo Kio - 531 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 #01-2447 Cheng San Centre Singapore 560531, Tel: 69700802
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