"Recently, I've been feeling very depressed, crying for no reason, sometimes feeling worthless, and I've had suicidal thoughts... What's the matter?"
What is depression?
Depression is an mood disorder whose core symptoms are persistent low mood and loss of interest. In addition, patients often feel tired easily and their appetite and sleep get worse. In terms of thinking, it becomes more negative, they tend to blame themself for no reason. They lost confidence in themselves and in their future. In severe cases, patients may even have suicidal thoughts.
What causes depression?
The causes of depression are often multi-factorial:
Studies have shown that if a member of the family has suffered from depression, the risk of developing the disease is higher.
People who are prone to stress, over-obsession and perfection are more likely to suffer from depression.
Heavy work stress, family and interpersonal problems, long-term illness, etc. can increase the risk of depression.
How to treat depression?
Treatment for depression depends primarily on the severity of the illness. The doctor will arrange a tailor-made treatment for each patient, which may include:
The main type of medication for depression is antidepressants. They help to regulate neurotransmitters including serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Antidepressants also promotes the brain to produce a neurotrophic factor "BDNF" which helps to repair damaged brain regions and improve the patient's functioning.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective treatment for depression. Psychologists help patients identify negative thoughts and behavior patterns and subsequently developing more adaptive approach to their problem.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) / Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
For people with severe depression, or when other treatments are not effective, we can consider ECT or rTMS treatment. For more information, please consult your attending physician.
How can you, as a family and friends, help people with depression?
Encourage patients to express their inner feelings and difficulties and give appropriate support.
Encourage patients to engage in certain degree of social contacts.
Regular lifestyle is important for improving a patient's mood.
Help patients to learn more about their condition and treatment methods, so that they can work with health care providers to receive treatment.
IS DEPRESSION COMMON IN HONG KONG?
According to the Hong Kong Mental Morbidity Survey 2010-2013, the prevalence of any kind of depressive disorder was roughly 10%. That means 1 in 10 Hong Kong Citizen is suffering from some degree of depressive illness.