Expert medical advice on depression, including core symptoms and how it can differ among women, men and kids
Depression is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but how do you know when it’s become a medical condition? Please welcome Dr. Nav Uppal from International Medical Clinic with a bit more background on depression, including warning signs and how its symptoms may manifest differently in women, men and kids. This is a truly vital read, mama!
Depression is quite common, yet many people don’t admit it (or perhaps don’t feel that it applies to them). This may be because some people feel there is a stigma attached, while in actuality depression is one of the most common illnesses we see in the IMC Clinic.
The Signs of Depression
The word “depression” is a commonly thrown around word. People may say they are depressed, when actually they are feeling fed up or stressed. Ups and downs of life are common, and most people recover quite quickly.
With true depression, you have a low mood and other symptoms each day for at least two weeks.
These include core symptoms such as:
- Persistent low mood or sadness, maybe with or without weepiness.
- Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities, even activities you may normally enjoy.
Other possible symptoms include:
- Sleep disturbance: This may be difficulty getting to sleep or waking early. Sometimes it can be getting too much sleep.
- Change in appetite: Often this is a combination of poor appetite and weight loss, but it can be the reverse with comfort eating and weight gain.
- Tiredness or loss of energy.
- Anger/ Irritability: You may become restless or even violent. Your tolerance level may become low, your temper short.
- Poor concentration or indecisiveness.
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
- Reckless behavior: Engaging in activities such as substance or alcohol abuse, compulsive gambling, or reckless driving.
- Recurrent thoughts of death / preoccupation with death or dying: For some people despairing thoughts like ‘Life’s not worth living’ are common.
These symptoms can affect your everyday life and become overwhelming.
Are certain people more likely to suffer from depression?
Presentation of depression often varies according to age and gender, with symptoms differing between men and women, or young or older adults.
Men are less likely to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness. Instead, they tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems and loss of interest in work and hobbies. They are also more likely to experience symptoms such as anger, aggression, reckless behavior, and alcohol/substance abuse.
Teens tend to experience more irritability, anger and agitation. They may also complain of headaches, stomachaches and other physical pains. They may have poor performance or attendance at school.
Women are more likely to experience feelings of guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating, and weight gain. Depression in women is also impacted by hormonal factors during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
Reach Out for Help
It is important to speak to your GP as soon as you can if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Understanding that symptoms may be due to depression, and that it is common, may help someone accept they are ill and need help.
Depression can be frightening, distressing and lonely, however there are effective treatments available. These include lifestyle changes, therapy and medications. Treatments include psychological (talking) treatments, and antidepressant medication. Alternative therapies may include advice about exercise, diet, supplements, or joining support groups.
Treatments take time to work, but have a good chance of success when taken correctly and with continued support from your doctor. It is therefore important to seek help early if you think you may be depressed or know someone who may have depression. Don’t forget family doctors or paediatricians are all trained to help.
International Medical Clinic (IMC)
Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, #14-06, Singapore 248649, Tel: (+65) 6733 4440
293 Holland Road, #02-04 Jelita Shopping Centre, Singapore 278628, Tel: (+65) 6465 4440
88 East Coast Road, #02-07 Katong Square, Singapore 423371, Tel: (+65) 6465 4440