Many of us feel depressed occasionally. Encountering stressful situations such as failing to meet your sales target and the end of a romantic relationship can trigger a depressed mood. On the other hand, mood disorders are of a greater severity in terms of mood changes, and these changes also last for a much longer period. These extreme alterations may lead to maladaptive behaviours that impact many aspects of one’s social and professional life.

Depression is one of the more common mental disorders, and its major characteristics include a loss of interest in activities, sadness, feelings of low self-worth, and changes in appetite. The 2004 National Mental Health Survey estimated that 5.6% of the population in Singapore experience depression in their lifetime. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in 2012 that more than 350 million people across the world are in depression.

Are there different types of depression?

Depression can manifest in two main forms: major depression and dysthymia. The latter is considered to be a milder form of depression. The chronic depressive symptoms persist for at least two years, accompanied by changes in appetite, sleep, and energy levels. Feelings of hopelessness and a loss of self-worth are also present. These symptoms have a less severe impact than major depression on normal functioning. People suffering from dysthymia are at a higher risk of a major depressive episode. Major depression is when symptoms last for at least two weeks, and cause significant impairment in daily functioning.

How do I know if someone is suffering from depression?

Depression isn’t just the daily mood fluctuations we experience from day to day. To receive a diagnosis of depression, the individual should be exhibiting symptoms such as depressed mood, low interest in most activities, having difficulties with sleep, restlessness, experiencing fatigue and problems concentrating as well as having frequent thought of death and suicide.

These symptoms must represent a change from their normal functioning and they must persist for more than 2 weeks.

How do I help someone with depression?

If you’re concerned that someone you know is showing signs of depression, it is recommended that you keep a close observation and urge him to seek help once the symptoms start to impair his daily functioning. Sometimes, it is difficult for a depressed person to acknowledge that they are withdrawing from social activities, or recognise that the listlessness and lack of focus in school or at work are due to depression.

A Singapore Mental Health survey from 2010 found that people suffering from depression took an average of 4 years to seek help!  Early diagnosis tends to improve the prognosis, so if you think that someone close to you is depressed, speak to him and encourage him to see a doctor.

How is depression treated?

Depression is one of the most treatable mental disorders, with a wide range of effective treatments available. Medications, counselling, and psychological strategies are available in Singapore. Treatment plans formulated may differ from patient to patient, as they depend on variables such as the symptoms presented and the personal history.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Department of Psychological Medicine provides comprehensive assessment and management for Depression in adults. We have a dedicated multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists and psychologists that can provide assessment and treatment for you and your loved ones’ psychological and emotional distress.


It is never too late to seek help. If you would like to obtain an assessment, please obtain a referral from your doctor or call 65558828 for an appointment.