Q&A: Talking to a professional about depression

Question:

How can I know if I need to seek professional help with my depression? I’ve felt sad and fatigued for a long time, but I’m hoping it’s just a phase.

Answer: Because clinical or major depression is a serious problem, we’d encourage you to seek help right away. Clinical depression is more than a temporary emotional slump. It involves a persistent — lasting two weeks or longer — and usually disruptive disturbance of mood and often affects other bodily functions as well. Here’s a list of the most prominent characteristics:

  • Persistent sadness and/or irritability. This may include depressive emotional reactions that seem out of proportion to the circumstances; episodes of moping and crying; withdrawal and isolation; fatigue and loss of enthusiasm or interest in favourite activities; poor school performance; and outbursts of anger and overt acting out.
  • Painful thoughts that manifest themselves in relentless introspection, a negative self-concept, persistent anxiety and a sense of hopelessness.
  • Physical symptoms such as insomnia, changes in appetite, headaches, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, abdominal cramps and episodes of shortness of breath.
  • In rare cases, a severe case of depression may also involve delusional thinking, including visual and auditory hallucinations. This is not merely depression but a form of psychosis, a serious disorder of neurochemical functions in the brain.

While treatable, the causes of depression can be extremely complex, including a blend of genetic, biochemical, personal, family and spiritual factors. That’s why we’d encourage to you get a physician’s evaluation and seek professional counselling without delay.

Our staff from Family Support Services would be happy to speak with you and provide you with a list of qualified psychiatrists. You can contact them at 03-3310 0792 or write to support@family.org.my.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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