What is depression?

Depression is an intense and pervasive feeling of great sadness or low mood over an extended period, which usually affects one’s thoughts and behaviours. Numerous emotional and physical problems result from this. It prevents us from engaging in daily tasks like eating, sleeping, interacting with others, studying, working, as well as from generally enjoying life.

Estimates place the prevalence of depression at 3.8% (or roughly 280 million individuals), making it a widespread mental health disorder (WHO, 2021). It is the most prevalent mental health issue listed in Malaysia. The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey found that 2.3% of Malaysia's adult population (or roughly 500,000 persons) lives with depression.

Just like any other illnesses, depression has various forms. According to the DSM-5-TR, the common depressive disorders include:

  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. Primarily experienced by children, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a childhood condition characterised by extreme irritability, rage, and frequent, severe temper tantrums. Children with DMDD experience severe impairment that needs clinical attention as it goes beyond the child being “moody”.
  • Major Depressive Disorder/ Clinical Depression. A disorder in which a depressed mood is the predominant symptom. The symptoms can affect your ability to function in various areas, including work and social interaction. Your sleep,  ability to enjoy life, and appetite may also be affected. Some people may experience just one episode, while others may have recurrent episodes over time. 
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder. A long-term chronic condition where symptoms are not as extensive or severe as a major depressive disorder. However, these symptoms can still prevent you from functioning at full capacity or from feeling good. Sometimes, those experiencing persistent depressive disorder may also experience major depressive episodes.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. A severe condition that is linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), causing extreme mood shifts that affect daily life and can create problems in relationships.  

Signs and symptoms of depression

  • Depressed mood (e.g., feeling empty, sad, hopeless) most of the day
  • Loss of interest or pleasure, including those that used to be enjoyable (e.g., hobbies, leisure, social activities)
  • Changes in appetite, significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleep (difficulty sleeping or sleeping much more than usual)
  • Moving more slowly or sometimes becoming agitated and unable to settle
  • Loss of energy or constantly fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death/ suicide

Symptoms last for two weeks or more and can cause significant distress.

How is depression diagnosed?

No matter your age, gender, race, wealth, social status or degree of education, depression can impact you. Additionally, it may co-exist with other illnesses like cancer, persistent pain, diabetes and heart disease.

Depression is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness; it is a mental health problem. Anyone can experience it. Early intervention is critical, and treatment typically helps things get better.

Treatments for depression

If you feel that you may be going through depression, make an appointment with your primary doctor or mental health professional.

Your health physician would be able to map out the best treatment plan for you. Treatment for depression typically involves medication, psychotherapy (also known as “talk therapy”), or both.

  • Medication: Medications may be indicated for moderate to severe depression. There are many different drugs available. It is important to continue taking the medication regularly, to derive the therapeutic benefit. Your psychiatrist will advise you as to when you may discontinue the medication. .
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy): This therapy helps to focus on changing the distorted views you have about yourself and of your environment. It is mostly a cognitive-behavioural and/or interpersonal therapy. This therapy helps you identify and manage stressors in your life and help you improve your interpersonal relationship skills.

How can I Take Care of Myself?

Looking after your physical health is an important first step:

  • Try to get some physical activity
  • Eat regular, healthy meals
  • Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and nicotine use
  • Talk to people you trust about how you are feeling
  • Go easy on yourself and gradually try to do things you used to enjoy

How can I Support a Loved One who is going through Depression?

When a spouse, family member, or friend is experiencing depression, your support can play an important role in their recovery.

  • Encourage them to see a mental health professional
  • Encourage the person to talk about their feelings and listen attentively without judgement
  • Stay in touch with the person
  • Help them follow through their treatment plan

Here at ParkCity Medical Centre (PMC), our mental health specialists at Mindcentric are highly qualified and well trained to provide you with the treatments that best meet your requirements. You will be carefully guided through the process by someone with many years of experience.

Meet our Specialist

Dr Lim Chong Hum

Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Wan Izwin Wan Hassan

Consultant Psychiatrist, Geriatric Psychiatry

Ms Tan Pei Jun

Clinical Psychologist, Unit Head

Ms Loo Mei Chien

Clinical Psychologist

Dr Susan Tan Mooi Koon

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist