Deal with depression sooner - not later

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 May, 2011, 12:00am


Clinical psychologist Dr Tiffany Lee says depression is curable and should be treated sooner - rather than later. If ignored, it can worsen and make a person totally dysfunctional.

Adults and peers need to be aware of symptoms and offer help. If someone experiences five of these nine symptoms for at least two weeks, he or she is suffering from depression and should seek help.

1 Feeling unhappy or easily irritated

2 Having no interest in activities one used to enjoy, such as a sport or social events

3 Cutting down or increasing food intake; losing or gaining weight noticeably

4 Feeling tired and lacking energy most of the time

5 Experiencing insomnia (lack of sleep) or hypersomnia (too much sleep)

6 Moving, reacting or talking faster or slower than usual

7 Feeling worthless or guilty, and blaming oneself for others' behaviour

8 Lacking focus; having trouble making decisions

9 Having negative thoughts; talking about or planning to seriously harm oneself

How to cope with stress

Stress is the main trigger of depression. Coping with stress is an important life skill that can keep you happy and healthy. Here are some useful tips from Lee and Dr Vinci Ng.

1 Learn to relax There are many ways to relax, for example, a simple breathing exercise. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit down and begin by concentrating on your breathing. Breathe deeply and slowly. Repeat for five to 10 minutes every day. Another simple exercise is to clench your fists tightly, then relax them. Repeat the action in other parts of the body, eg shoulders and feet.

2 Regular exercise Exercise helps ease stress-related conditions and anxiety, providing a 'high' that increases energy and creates a positive mood. Endurance-based sports such as swimming, cycling and running, as well as yoga, can lift your spirits by increasing the dopamine level in your brain. Thirty minutes of exercise will do the trick

3 Think positive Learn to be grateful and appreciate what you have rather than focusing on what you don't have. Life is about give and take.

4 Externalise the problem Try to disconnect problems from you personally. Sometimes they are caused by others and out of your control. When you have a problem, it does not make you a bad person; you just need to deal with it.

5 Don't act in anger In stressful situations, we tend to make hasty decisions and create unnecessary problems. It is best not to act impulsively. It will save you a lot of trouble. If you are very upset and about to get really angry, take a break by walking away from the scene. Or you could go and have a glass of water or just do some deep breathing.

6 Take up a hobby Develop a hobby and do it for enjoyment. For instance, take up drawing or chess; learn pottery or photography. You can share a hobby with a friend, which will double the fun.

7 Open up Maintain a network of friends who will support you in tough situations

8 Communicate Find time to talk to your family, including your parents and siblings; they might need you, too.

9 Time management Don't leave what needs to be done until the last minute.

10 Prepare Rehearse situations which could cause stress, such as a presentation.

11 Be assertive Say no to tasks or activities you don't feel comfortable doing

12 No-no's Avoid alcohol, tobacco - and stay far away from drugs