Written by: Eliora Tan Yu Xuan (21-E5), Jachin Khoo (21-U5), Jacynthe Liew (21-O3)
Designed by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)
Introduction: What is depression?
Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities.
It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.
Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can get worse without proper treatment. Those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks.
Depression can be broken into categories depending on the severity of symptoms. Some people experience mild and temporary episodes, while others experience severe and ongoing depressive episodes.
There are two main types: major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
- Major depressive disorder is the more severe form of depression. It’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that don’t go away on their own.
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) used to be called dysthymia. It’s a milder, but chronic, form of depression.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person; while some may experience an extensive number of symptoms, signs of depression may be milder and less easily identified in others. Some of the common symptoms include fatigue, pessimism and hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness, as well as suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. Less common symptoms include digestive problems that one fails to recover from in spite of going for treatment, as well as aches, headaches, pains or cramps which last for long periods of time. Early identification of these symptoms can effectively help one ‘‘beat the blues’’.
If you think that the above-mentioned symptoms are applicable to you, do consider consulting a medical health professional. While it isn’t easy taking this first step, rest assured that your family, friends and teachers are here to support you in your journey towards recovery. You are not alone! In addition, to better assess your symptoms, as well as develop a better understanding of your mental health condition, do consider taking a few minutes of your time to answer the questions in the quiz below. Hopefully, through this mini assessment, you will have a slight inclination of whether you are depressed, and if you require any sort of medical attention.
Ways to support those with depression
- Provide a listening ear
Offering someone with depression a chance to express themselves by providing a listening ear shows them they are not alone! Whilst listening to their problems, you could also console them with simple phrases such as, “I’m sorry to hear that”, this validates their feelings and allows them to feel that you are able to empathise with them.
- Help them find support
There are many support channels available for people facing depression. In a school community, this could be through a Civics Tutor or the school counsellor. Even outside of school, there are helplines available such as the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) for the greater community! Encouraging someone facing depression to seek professional help definitely improves their recovery and allows them to get back on their feet.
- Offer help with even the simplest tasks
This simple gesture shows that they are not alone in their journey and that someone is always looking out for them, giving them a huge boost in moral and emotional strength to overcome depression.
What not to say
- “This will pass, don’t worry.”
A person who is depressed may have a hard time envisioning the future because they are overwhelmed by the present. It’s not easy for someone who experienced trauma or loss to “let go” or “escape from” the past. You may feel like you’re offering help by saying that, eventually, things will get better, but a person who is depressed may be frustrated wondering how long they will have to wait. Instead, do your best to be present with them at the moment, and just sit with them and try not to worry about saying the right or wrong things.
- “But you’re not always sad!”
People who need help often look like people who don’t need help. It is important for us to remember that how a person feels on the inside might not necessarily be translated into how they appear on the outside. In fact, it is quite common for people with depression to try very hard to hide how they truly feel from others, as they may worry about how others’ opinion and perspective of them would change for the worse.
- “Other people have problems too, stop overreacting.”
People with depression also lack the internal resources needed to cope with stress in an effective and healthy way. Maybe a person’s life could be worse, but depression isn’t about how bad things are—it’s about how bad they feel for that person at that moment. Avoid making comparisons or staging a “competition” for who feels the worst. Doing so isn’t helpful and can make a person with depression feel that you’re minimizing their experience or not really listening to what they’re telling you.
All-in-all, depression could hit anyone at any time and it is definitely normal to feel overwhelmed at times. What matters is the support we extend to our peers and friends around us. By delicately and carefully helping those who are in need of such support, we have taken the first step to reduce stigmatisation and build a stronger and more accepting community!
- Bruce, D. F., PhD. (2008, June 10). Symptoms of Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression
- HealthHub. (2021, July 5). Depression. https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/101/topics_depression
- Higuera, V. (2020, February 11). Everything You Want to Know About Depression. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression
- Ng, P. (2020, July 29). Take the Depression Test Now! My Mental Health. https://stayprepared.sg/mymentalhealth/articles/depression-test
5. Schimelpfening, N. (2020, August 7). Worst Things to Say to Someone Who Is Depressed. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/worst-things-to-say-to-someone-who-is-depressed-1066982