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 a medical condition that affects how people think and behave, and the way they feel and function. More than feeling sad, depression may affect a person's interest in activities, work and quality of life. It can happen to anyone. The good news is, depression can be treated, especially if help is sought early.

Related: Coping with Depression

Symptoms of Depression

Lonely Chair in Open Room 

Depression commonly happens to adults who find difficulty coping with certain life stressors. Relationship issues, marital woes, financial difficulties, unemployment, life-threatening or chronic illnesses, lack of social support, loss of a loved one, or even personality can make a person prone to depression. Beyond just sadness, depression interferes with how you engage with people and day-to-day life.

You may be suffering from depression if you experience five or more of these symptoms every day for two weeks or longer. The acronym “SAD CAGES” can help you better remember these symptoms:

  • S – Sleep disturbances

  • A – Appetite change

  • D – Depressed mood of feelings of sadness over a sustained period of time

  • C – Concentration problems

  • A – Anhedonia: Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

  • G – Guilt or shame

  • E – Energy and enthusiasm low

  • S – Suicidal thoughts due to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

Related: How to Identify and Deal with Depression

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:

  • Relationship problems

  • Financial difficulties

  • Physical illnesses

  • Unemployment

  • Lack of support

  • Loss of a loved one

Related: Coping with Bereavement

Managing Depression

You can keep depression at bay by making a few lifestyle adjustments and taking active steps to improve and manage your mood. Because your mood is influenced by your thoughts and actions, it's a good idea to pursue activities that you enjoy so as to lift your mood.

Some of these activities can include:

  • Spending time with friends and having fun.

  • Making time to relax and enjoy yourself.

  • Taking care of your physical health, such as engaging in a physical activity you enjoy, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.

  • Organising your time so you feel in control.

  • Finding things to laugh about.

  • Sharing your feelings with others, or writing them down in a journal to help clear your thoughts.

  • Pursuing activities that you enjoy and are interested in.

  • Learning ways to manage stress effectively.

  • Focusing on the things to be grateful for in life.

  • Practising acts of kindness which also helps to improve your mood.

Who Else Can You Turn to for Help to Cope With Depression?

Besides lifestyle changes, depression can be managed also through a range of treatment strategies, including medication, counselling or psychological intervention with the help of experts. Treatment needs vary from individual to individual.

If you're suffering from depression, it's best to approach a mental health professional to find out what treatment (or combination of treatments) is available and suited to you, and with their help, develop an individualised support plan. Remember, depression will not go away by itself. If left untreated, the symptoms are likely to get worse. It is therefore important to seek help early.

For support, you can speak to your doctor or visit the following:

  • Health Promotion Board (HPB) Hotline (Health Promotion Board's toll-free health information service line that is available in 4 languages)
    T: 1800 223 1313
    Mon-Fri: 8am - 6pm
    Sat, Sun and Public Holidays: Closed

  • Polyclinics and Hospitals

  • Institute of Mental Health

Tip: You can use Medisave to pay for part of your outpatient treatment medical bills for depression.

Contact Info

Health Promotion Board
3 Second Hospital Avenue, Singapore 168937
Tel: 6435 3500
Fax: 6438 3848

Visit MindSG for more tools to take care of your mental well-being.

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