As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, be sure to take care of not just your physical health but your mental well-being too. The COVID-19 outbreak may have reminded us to revisit our hygiene habits and take better care of our bodies, but we often neglect our mental health in this crisis.
Singapore has done a great job of managing the pandemic— immunisation is already in progress. The daily case count is in the single-digit range — but even so, the disease continues to wreak havoc on many other aspects of our lives. For many of us, our ‘new normal’ involves telecommuting, home-schooling our children, limited socialisation with our friends, family and colleagues, and perhaps even unemployment and income loss.
Image Source: Envato Elements, Leszekglasner
Unsurprisingly, depression is a related outcome of the global health crisis. Beyond merely feeling down, depression is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness and/or hopelessness. It often disrupts the sufferer’s daily life, causing them to be unable to enjoy other activities, including those that were previously rewarding.
There is no single cause of depression. The condition is complex, and has several causes, from physiological changes in our brain and/or hormonal levels to environmental factors like stress, trauma and the like. But what we do know is that women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression.
Depression can strike anyone, and at any age, so it is more important than ever for us to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Although depression can be triggered by significant upheavals such as grief due to the loss of someone close or financial difficulties due to job loss, we must remember that even if we are fortunate enough not to be affected by the above, we may still be vulnerable to heightened stress, anxiety, interpersonal tension and other conflicts.
If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from depression, the Ministry of Health recommends checking your symptoms against this list (‘SAD CAGES’):
S – Sleep disturbances
A – Appetite change
D – Depressed mood of feelings of sadness over a sustained period
C – Concentration problems
A – Anhedonia: Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
G – Guilt or shame
E – Energy and enthusiasm low
S – Suicidal thoughts due to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
If you have at least five symptoms that persist daily for two weeks or more, you may want to visit your doctor. You can also call HealthLine (Health Promotion Board’s toll-free health information service line) at 1800 223 1313. It operates from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to 1pm on Saturday and is available in 4 languages. Alternatively, visit any polyclinic, hospital or the Institute of Mental Health.