Psychosocial Health

Understanding Depression

It is totally natural to feel bad when we experience something sad. However, if we are so sad that our work or daily life is affected, we may be experiencing depression.

A local study showed that depression was affecting nearly 3% of Hong Kong people. Individuals experiencing depression are usually under tremendous stress over a period of time. Under this condition, the body would produce excessive stress hormone, which is harmful to the brain areas that manage emotion, motivation, sleep and appetite, etc. Therefore, the affected individuals have difficulty to feel happy and lose interest in activities. This situation is like when we have to work or have activities in hot weather for a long time, but the function of regulating body temperature is damaged. We may then suffer from heatstroke.

Individuals experiencing depression feel sad, empty or hopeless most of the time. They lose interest in activities that they normally enjoy, and may withdraw from others. Their physical health may also be affected, such as getting tired easily, having diminished ability to think or concentrate, being indecisive even for simple things, and may experience changes in sleep and appetite (increase or decrease drastically). They may feel guilty, worthless, lose self-confidence and even have thoughts of suicide.

If some of the above conditions occur over a period of time and affect your daily life, please consider seeking advice from professionals.

What can you do if you or someone you know have similar conditions?

Step One: Professional Assessment
We will see a doctor when we are feeling ill. Likewise, if you or someone you know suffer from depression, do seek professional assessment from doctor or clinical psychologist to prevent the condition from getting worse.

Step Two: Appropriate Treatment
If treatment is indicated upon assessment, there are treatments that have been clinically proven to be effective for depression.

Psychological Therapy
Health care workers will first understand the situation and come up with a treatment plan together with the affected individual. The individual will then be guided to understand the relationship between emotion, behaviour and cognition, to modify negative way of thinking and behavioral step-by-step, and to learn about stress and emotional management techniques. Through treatment, the individual will be able to build a healthier lifestyle.

Drug Treatment
Doctors may prescribe drug after assessing the condition of the individuals.

Step Three: Listen Empathetically and Walk together
None of us want to be sad. Like any other diseases, depression is never a personal choice.

Please avoid to:
Deny others’ feelings
“You shouldn’t feel down when so many of us are supporting you.”

Disregard others’ experiences
“Well, it is so trivial. Why bother?”
“No need to feel sad.”

Don’t rush to change them. Try to listen, understand and accept their feelings and needs at the moment.

Try to say:
“After going through so many things, I know you feel very unhappy.”
“Let’s look for help together. Take your time. I’ll keep you company.”

When a person is depressed, he/she may lose the motivation to seek help. At this juncture, having the encouragement and company from family members and friends to get assessment and treatment play a pivotal role in the recovery process.

If you wish to get more relevant information, please call:

Hospital Authority Mental Health 24-hour Hotline: 2466 7350
Social Welfare Department Hotline: 2343 2255

*Please consult respective organizations for the most updated information.

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