Archive for June, 2010

What is Depression?

Posted: June 29, 2010 in Mental Illness

You might have heard the word ‘depression’ being bandied around sometimes. You might also have heard your classmate say, ‘I feel so depressed I don’t feel like coming to school’. There are lots of information available online on what depression really is but I thought I would write about it anyway because the way I see it there is still a number of half-truths out there. What I write, however,  is by no means a substitute for proper assessment and diagnosis by a medical doctor so in cases when you’re not sure please consult a doctor or come and see me. 🙂

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in America defines depression as a medical illness that is different from just feeling upset or abit down once in awhile. Some signs and symptoms of depression may include a combination of persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness (and persistent means more than 2 weeks), social withdrawal, loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy doing, loss in appetite, disruption of sleep (insomnia or early wakefulness), feelings of hopelessness, lethargy and even thoughts of suicide.

Person with depression is not crazy or has lost his or her mind. I think that’s a point that I often try to make with parents, students and teachers alike. Just as we wouldn’t discriminate against somebody with diabetes who seeks treatment from an endocrinologist and say he/she is ‘something wrong’, we shouldn’t discriminate against someone with depression who seeks treatment from a psychiatrist. I mean what century do we live in right? And it can happen to any of us. In Singapore, a 1998 survey on ‘The Mental Health of a Nation’ reports depression prevalence rates of 8.6% among those aged 13-65!

Depression is highly treatable with medication and therapy. Again, these medication do not ‘make you crazy’ and do not make you an addict. It works on our brain chemicals specifically the neurotransmitters such as serotonin and neopinephrine (I’m sure I’m spelling this wrong) to restore its balance. To find out more about what is depression and how it’s treated, check out the 4 minute video above and also check out the NIMH website.