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Depression - What it is

Depression is a low mood state commonly experienced in response to loss, failure, disappointment, or hardship. Key symptoms include pervasive sadness, an inability to experience pleasure, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and physical symptoms like loss of energy and disturbances in sleep and appetite. Depression can be associated with anxiety, alcoholism, and substance misuse, and if left untreated, it can lead to suicide and death.

Who gets depression?

Depression can affect individuals from any social, cultural, or economic background. It often manifests between the ages of 20 to 40, but children and the elderly can also be affected. A family history of depression increases the risk, and an estimated 5.8% of the Singapore population suffers from depression.

Depression - Symptoms

Depression - How to prevent?

Depression - Causes and Risk Factors

Depression can result from various environmental and situational factors related to relationship difficulties, financial problems, or work stressors. 

Research indicates that depression may involve structural, functional, and neurochemical changes in the brain. Psychological development problems and negative thinking patterns are often present in depressed individuals.

Depression - Diagnosis

Depression - Treatments

  • Medications: Antidepressant medications effectively treat depression, lifting the mood and alleviating symptoms. The choice of antidepressant depends on the patient's symptoms, side effect tolerability, and the doctor's treatment plan.
  • Psychological and Social Interventions:
    • Psychotherapy: "Talk therapy" like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, and Interpersonal Psychotherapy can be used for mild to moderate depression, either alone or in combination with antidepressant therapy.
    • Social Interventions: Depending on the patient's needs, social interventions such as family or marital therapy, and financial or occupational assistance may be beneficial.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT):
    • ECT can be considered when other treatments fail, a rapid response is needed, or the condition is severe and potentially life-threatening (e.g., severe suicidality or refusal to eat and drink).
    • ECT involves the controlled induction of seizures for therapeutic purposes and is performed under general anesthesia.

Depression - Preparing for surgery

Depression - Post-surgery care

Depression - Other Information

How to help yourself

  1. Avoid self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes: Turning to substances for relief may exacerbate mental health issues. Instead, consider seeking professional guidance to address the root causes of distress.
  2. Reduce caffeine intake for better sleep: Cutting back on caffeine can contribute to improved sleep quality, a crucial factor in maintaining mental well-being and managing conditions like depression.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet: Nourishing your body with a balanced diet supports overall health, including mental well-being. Certain nutrients play a role in mood regulation, making dietary choices an essential aspect of mental health care.
  4. Regular exercise boosts mood: Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, contributing to a positive mood and helping alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  5. Seek appropriate pain treatment if needed: Addressing physical pain is vital for mental health, as chronic pain can contribute to or exacerbate conditions like depression. Consult with healthcare professionals to explore effective pain management strategies.
  6. Take regular breaks for relaxation activities: Incorporating relaxation activities into your routine, such as deep breathing, meditation, or enjoying a hobby, can be beneficial in reducing stress and promoting mental well-being.
  7. Recognize negativity as part of depression and avoid major decisions during depressive episodes: Understanding that negative thoughts are symptomatic of depression allows for a more compassionate self-view. Avoiding major decisions during these episodes prevents potential long-term consequences influenced by temporary emotions.
  8. Set simple goals: Establishing achievable and realistic goals provides a sense of accomplishment, contributing to a positive outlook and self-esteem, particularly important in managing conditions like depression.
  9. Break major tasks into smaller chunks and prioritize: Breaking down significant tasks into manageable steps helps alleviate feelings of overwhelm and promotes a sense of control, crucial for individuals navigating mental health challenges.
  10. Manage expectations and avoid self-blame: Acknowledging limitations and avoiding self-blame fosters self-compassion. Understanding that mental health is complex and influenced by various factors allows for a more realistic and constructive perspective.
  11. Seek support from friends and family: Building a support network is vital for mental health. Connecting with friends and family provides emotional support and understanding, fostering a sense of belonging and resilience.
Finally, if you suspect loved one may be experiencing depression, share this article with them or download a leaflet below for further reading:


The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth