am I depressed

how to help a depressed person

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. Depression.

What is depression?

Many adults might chalk up depression to so-called "teenage angst", that confusing mix of feelings that comes with puberty, insecurity, and awkwardness. So, their advice might be "get over it!", or "don't worry, it's just a phase!"

Of course they mean well, but sometimes they just don't seem to get it, do they?

Some teenagers might even think that feeling blue 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, and it can be treated.

How do I know if I'm depressed?

But 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. But clinical depression, as in a medically-diagnosed condition, is usually something that lasts much longer.

Here are some common symptoms of depression:

  • Social withdrawal and loss of interest in pleasurable activities, e.g. withdrawing from family and other social activities
  • Poor sleep or increased sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite
  • Feelings of guilt and sense of hopelessness
  • Poor concentration at school
  • If these feelings grow over time, they should not be ignored. And if they turn to thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately.

How to reach out if I have depression

Reaching out can seem like a huge challenge, especially for someone who is depressed. 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.

But once you realise no one will think any less of you, that no one thinks depression is a 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.

A lot has been learned about depression in the last decade, and there are plenty of resources that explain what depression is 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 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, online forums, and web resources devoted to helping people struggling with depression. Do remember that it is important to seek professional help.

You don't need to suffer

Being a teen is tough. Adolescence is one of the most vulnerable periods of our lives, when it can feel like the world is bombarding you with responsibilities, messages, expectations, influences and incredible pressure to be a certain kind of person who thinks a certain kind of way.

When 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!​