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Depression: an overview

Feeling sad is normal for all of us; sadness is a natural human emotion. But if you are increasingly unable to get satisfaction out of everyday life and tasks that once seemed easy are now becoming harder to do or not being done at all, it may be time to seek help. A persistent low mood is obviously not something that happens overnight. Often the cause can be traced back to a specific life events such as separation/divorce, loss of a job, a death, or past trauma such as assault. Other times it can be linked to situational issues such as adjusting to life in a new country, upcoming exams, having to work longer hours or having good friends move away. Feelings can come from anxiety about the worsening environment, and uncertainty in the world. These big events have a way of triggering or hooking into personal experiences of helplessness resulting in thoughts of “what is the point to anything.” Another often overlooked cause of depression is our physical health. For example, strong evidence now suggests poor digestive health can be a basis for depression. Deficiency in certain essential vitamins and minerals can result from a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Living in a busy, crowded city like Hong Kong can tax our adrenal systems (our flight -fight response). Light from our phones and computers at night messes up our production of the sleep hormones. How many people can you count falling asleep on the MTR each morning? You may be able to identify one or all of the above causes in your life and the important thing is to seek help. First check in with a doctor to see if there is a medical basis for your depression. Simple tests can provide a great deal of information but if nothing conclusive is found, then it may be the time to find a counsellor or psychologist. They are the best people to help you find your way back to a better quality of life. Some common symptoms of depression · Feeling restless and irritable · Sleeping too little or too much · Feeling tired, gloomy and sad with crying spells · Having trouble in maintaining concentration · Losing a sense of identity · Isolating yourself, avoiding friends and usually pleasurable activities · Experiencing body weight changes during the last month. Significant increase or decrease of appetite · Frequent headaches and backpain or vague aches like joint and muscle aches · Feeling empty and confused · Feelings of life being pointless · Feelings of wanting life to end

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