Signs of Depression and How to Get Help in Singapore (2023)
Most of us may have experienced feelings of sadness and gloom at some point in our lives. While it’s normal to feel this way every now and then, if these feelings become more frequent or intense, it may be a sign of depression. In fact, depression or major depressive disorder is more common than you think and could affect you or someone you know.
How common is depression in Singapore?
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. In Singapore, the statistics of depression are equally concerning. It is estimated that one in 16 people will experience depression at some point in their lives. These rates demonstrate that depression is a common and significant mental health issue.
Depression, however, can be a hard feeling to put a finger on as there are many possible causes, ranging from stress to grief and loss. It is thus important to prioritise mental health and seek help if there is a concern of depression. Get to know the most common signs of depression, available treatments in Singapore and how to pay the treatment costs of depression.
Signs of depression to watch out for
As depression can manifest in a variety of ways and affect people differently, it's crucial to pay attention to how your body is feeling and how you're behaving. That being said, there are a few key signs and symptoms that are common among those who suffer from it. This includes:
1. Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
If one experiences feelings of sadness, depression, or hopelessness for a prolonged period of time, this could be an early warning sign that something is wrong. If these persist over time despite positive life events, it may be a sign of depression. These feelings may also be accompanied by a lack of energy and a sense of worthlessness.
2. Withdrawal from activities that used to be enjoyable
One symptom commonly associated with depression is a loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities. If one notices a loss of pleasure in activities like hanging out with friends, going to the gym, or playing video games—or if there is a lack of motivation to do those things anymore—this could be a sign that something isn’t quite right.
3. Changes in appetite
Depression may cause changes in appetite, leading to either weight loss or weight gain. Changes in eating habits, like decreased or increased food consumption, could indicate an underlying issue such as depression that should be addressed.
4. Difficulty sleeping
Difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or sleeping for longer periods of time than usual can be symptoms of depression. If one is lying awake at night or struggling to get out of bed in the morning, it might be time to talk to a doctor about the possibility of depression.
5. Physical symptoms
Depression can also cause physical symptoms such as fatigue, body aches, and difficulty concentrating. These may include constant feelings of exhaustion, even after getting a full night's sleep, or unexplained aches and pains.
6. Changes in mood
Depression can result in mood swings, leading to periods of irritability or anger. This may manifest as an increased tendency towards frustration or irritation.
7. Difficulty making decisions
If one notices difficulty with even the smallest tasks such as making decisions about what food to order at a restaurant or what show to watch on Netflix, it could be indicative of depression. This mental condition can limit decision-making abilities and lead to issues with focus, concentration, and memory.
8. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
In some cases, depression can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. These thoughts can range from fleeting thoughts to more persistent and intense thoughts. It is important to seek help immediately if one is experiencing this symptom.
Where to seek help or treatment for depression in Singapore
Bear in mind that the frequency and severity of depression symptoms can vary. Some people experience daily symptoms while others experience them less frequently. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, with severe symptoms significantly impacting daily life. If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to get professional assistance immediately. The earlier help is sought, the greater the chances of a successful recovery. Some of the mental health treatments available in Singapore include:
Antidepressant medications work to increase the amount of serotonin and noradrenaline being sent through nerve fibres in the brain. Generally, the doctor will decide which medication is appropriate based on the type of depression and potential side effects. To ensure results, it is essential that individuals taking antidepressant medication continue to take their prescribed doses for at least 9-12 months. If treatment is discontinued too early, there is a risk of experiencing a relapse months down the line. The cost of the antidepressant medication can start from $30 onwards.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
ECT may be used to treat patients who have become so severely depressed that they are suicidal, or if an antidepressant drug produces intolerable side effects. It involves passing a small electrical current through the patient's brain to induce a seizure. The aim of the procedure is to reset the functioning of neural pathways in order to improve symptoms such as depression. More information about the therapy and pricing may be provided by the doctor.
Ventilation is a fundamental part of psychological treatments for depression, where the patient needs to be able to openly describe their thoughts and feelings. There are three main types of treatment: Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Each of these employs its own distinct methods based on the patient's needs as well as the skills and expertise available from psychiatric professionals. Sometimes, more than one method may be combined when the right course of action is not immediately evident.
Apart from that, for those who are unable to leave their home due to mobility issues or other reasons, telehealth solutions are available to provide remote care and support. With telehealth services in Singapore, patients can receive teletherapy sessions as well as virtual consultations with a mental health specialist in the comfort of their own homes. This form of therapy is great for those looking for extra convenience or those who may not have the time to visit a physician in-person.
Financing the cost of depression treatments in Singapore
At a glance, treatment for depression in Singapore can be costly and may add a barrier for patients who need it most. Fortunately, there are many resources available for individuals diagnosed with depression, enabling them to receive the care they need without having to worry about the cost. For those that are concerned about the total cost of treatment for depression, it is possible to reduce out-of-pocket spending through:
Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP)
Under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP), individuals who suffer from dementia and mental health conditions like schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety can avail support under Medisave for Inpatient Psychiatric Episodes which covers hospital charges up to $150 a day or maximum of $5,000 per annum. Similarly, outpatient treatments related to the specified 23 chronic conditions can cover up to $500 per year for non-complex situations and up to $700 for complex cases. This applies to patients with any of the following conditions:
- Diabetes Mellitus/ Pre-diabetes
- Hyperlipidemia (Lipid Disorders)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Major Depression
- Bipolar Disorder
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- Parkinson's Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease (Nephrosis/Nephritis)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ischaemic Heart Disease
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Chronic Hepatitis B
Furthermore, Medishield Life Inpatient Psychiatric offers an additional cover of up to 60 days per policy year. The daily coverage is capped at $160.
Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
Besides the CDMP, extra financial support through the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) can be provided if treatment is received from participating General Practitioner (GP) clinics. CHAS is available to all Singapore Citizens, including Pioneer Generation (PG) and Merdeka Generation (MG) cardholders. It complements the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) by allowing for the use of MediSave to pay for outpatient care while benefiting from CHAS subsidies. The subsidy amount will depend on the Annual Value (AV) of one’s home.
Insurance with comprehensive mental health coverage
Additionally, having whole life insurance with mental health coverage can come in handy in difficult mental health situations. Income's Star Secure Pro, for example, offers a rider - Early Life Accelerator add-on - that provides 30% of the rider's sum assured1 upon diagnosis of these conditions: Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Tourette Syndrome. This benefit gives policyholders much-needed flexibility to use these payouts for treatments or medications, as well as helping them financially in situations where their mental health requires them to take time off work for some time. During difficult times, having a policy in place can make a difference in finding peace of mind and taking control of one’s mental health. With the option of whole life insurance, one can plan ahead and feel prepared for whatever challenges might come down the road.
Get help now
If you or someone close to you have been experiencing the above symptoms for an extended period of time, it is important to reach out for professional help. Seek online support through helplines such as:
- Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-221-4444
- Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714
- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Hotline: 6389-2222
As part of your overall well-being, consider getting insured for mental illnesses. Having an insurance plan can be an investment for the future – both financially and mentally. Whole life insurance with mental health coverage1 like Income’s Star Secure Pro’s Early Life Accelerator can cover1 the costs of necessary treatments for mental illness should they become necessary down the road. That way, you or your loved ones can get affordable access to mental healthcare and fully focus on getting better.