Rita Goh Blog
Depress? There is help   
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Depression and Teenagers
According to recent press reports, teenagers having depression are on the rise in Singapore. It was reported that many youngsters these days face difficulties coping with school, as well as dealing with family relationships and peers.

Teenagers have so much to deal with in today's society that depression can come easily. If left untreated, it can become a much more serious issue.

With pressure at school, family situations, and the necessity of making serious life choices at a young age, depression may make such a sudden impact even the teenager may not know that he or she is suffering with this disorder.

Depression in teenagers is often overlooked, and is rarely treated or even diagnosed. Many parents tend to view their teenager's bad mood as just another teenage trait.

Teenage Mood Swings vs. Depression
Most teenagers suffering with depression will almost constantly be upset, not just with their parents, but also with siblings and even friends. Their grades may drop and their social life may cease suddenly and unexpectedly. Your teenager may make excuses to stay in his room and not participate in social activities, and even when forced to participate, may do so with little or no enthusiasm.

Sometimes, this disorder may actually be a chemical imbalance and uncontrollable with just words and care from the parent. Medications and therapy may be required for your teenager to regain their mental health back.

Depression is such a serious disorder that can lead up to even more serious situations like school or home violence, self injury, even suicide.
posted by Rita Goh @ 6:20 PM   0 comments  
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Depression and Menopause
Studies have shown that there is a close relationship between depression and menopause. Many women experience bouts of depression as they approach menopause. This period of time is associated with gradual declines in estrogen levels, which may be linked with the onset of depression.

It can be confusing when trying to determine if you are suffering from depression, simply going through menopause or experiencing both. This is because many symptoms of menopause and depression are very similar, such as interrupted sleep patterns, fatigue, hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

If your doctor thinks that your depression is as a result of declining hormone levels as you are approaching or experiencing menopause, there is a possibility he will suggest hormone replacement therapy, which includes estrogen. It is important to discuss both the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy, including potential benefits to your overall mood.

Recent studies have shown that the risks of hormone therapy include heart attack, stroke and breast cancer, and some professionals believe that these risks may outweigh the benefits women can receive from this course of treatment. That being said, estrogen therapy remains the most effective treatment for many menopausal symptoms.
posted by Rita Goh @ 10:27 PM   0 comments  
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Alternative Treatments for Mild Depression
There are a number of alternative treatments available to sufferers of mild to moderate depression. Treatments ranging from herbs and acupuncture to guided imagery are all finding their place in an ever modernizing approach to treating depression.

St John's Wort
There are a number of herbal treatments available all claiming to relieve the symptoms of depression. However, there is conclusive evidence that high quality St John’s Wort is very effective in relieving the symptoms of mild depression. To learn more, please click on http://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/ .

Meditation is the art of breathing. Maintaining a steady breath while sitting relaxes the body and mind. You cultivate mindfulness by concentrating on the present moment and what it brings to you.

Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to various parts of the hands and feet such that it will stimulate the body to heal itself. These various points are said to represent various parts of the human body, and by applying pressure to them, they induce healing in that particular part of the body.

Acupuncture stimulates the release of chemicals that alleviate the sensation of pain. It also corrects imbalances by stimulating the body functions to fight illnesses and conditions such as depression.

Massage is the art of using touch to promote relaxation concentrating on the link between mind and body. When the body is relaxed this is believed to promote relaxation and calmness in the mind. This will lead to lowering symptoms of depression. There are a number of massage therapies available such as shiatsu, Swedish and spinal release therapy.

Guided Imagery
Guided Imagery uses powerful mental image techniques to promote harmony between the mind and body. The patient is encouraged to see peaceful mental images that create calm within the mind of the patient. This is taught as a coping skill that can be used to fight unhealthy negative emotions such as anger, as well as helping relieving pain, stress and depression. It can also help relieve insomnia which is a symptom of depression and anxiety.

Physical Exercise
Physical exercise produces endorphins which cause a natural 'high' felt by the person. Exercise is known to relax the body and mind along with relieving stress and depression.
posted by Rita Goh @ 6:50 PM   0 comments  
Monday, November 27, 2006
How to Detect Major Depression

We all have low moods from time to time. For instance, if a relationship breaks up we may feel shocked, we may cry, go off our food, get angry and irritable, sleep poorly and get anxious. Usually, the mood passes after a few days and we get back to our normal way of living. We may say that we have been depressed. What I experienced was what doctors termed ‘clinical depression’ or major depression. It’s a more severe illness, which a person has had for at least a few weeks, affecting the body as well as the mind. Below are the symptoms, which I experienced. I have divided them into psychological and physical symptoms.

Psychological Symptoms of depression

* Loss of interest and pleasure in things you used to enjoy – I lost interest in everything, including things that I felt so passionately about, such as singing

* Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness

* Inappropriate guilt – My father had died from a bad fall and I felt guilty that I wasn’t around to save him

* Problems with thinking, concentration and attention – For example, I would read a couple of sentences from the newspaper and then not able to concentrate anymore

* Poor memory – By afternoon, I cannot recall what I did in the morning

* Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide – I kept thinking of my late father and those who passed away and that I had a terminal illness and will be going to join them soon. I kept telling my husband that life is meaningless and miserable.

* Overwhelming sadness and grief

* Depressed mood – Dispirited all day long

* Decreased ability to make decisions – Inability to make even simple decisions

* Lack of motivation - I lacked motivation and had trouble finishing any task on hand, even simple ones

* Becoming withdrawn – I withdrew from all social activities

* Preoccupation with negative thoughts – For example, whilst driving, I kept thinking I would meet with a terrible accident

* Self-blame – I blamed myself for bringing my children into this world to suffer

* Restlessness – I became restless every ten minutes

* Anxiety – experienced extreme difficulty in staying relax

Irrational fears and phobias - I suffered from panic attacks whenever I stepped out of my home. For example, the moment I was in the lift, I feared that the lift would break down. When I am on board a plane, I feared that the plane would crash

Delusions - I believed that I possessed supernatural powers and by staring into other people’s eyes long enough, I could control their minds

Hallucinations - I had all kinds of hallucinations and these included hearing voices and seeing things that did not exist. For example, I saw bean sprouts standing up as I ate a bowl of noodles.

Physical Symptoms of Depression

* Sleep problems - Insomnia, waking up early or sleeping too much. At one stage, I could go without sleep for three days in a row

* Decrease or increase in appetite - Lack of appetite or suddenly wanting to eat a lot

* Fatigue - Often feel tired

* Physical aches and pains - I suffered from stiff neck, backaches, etc.

If you or someone you know have such symptoms and lasting more than 2 weeks, it is best and wise to seek professional help immediately.

posted by Rita Goh @ 7:10 PM   0 comments  
Nurses Reach Out To Mentally Ill
Read today's article in the Straits Times (dated 27th November 2006) entitled 'Nurses reach out to mentally ill' with interest and delight.

It was reported that some 25 volunteer nurses, all with psychiatric training, are joining in house visits in the Geylang Serai district to help those fighting mental illnesses.

According to Ms Doris Liew Nyuk Sim, chairman of the Psychiatric Nurses Chapter (PNC) which is part of the Singapore Nurses Association, about 12 people have been identified who needed help.

The cases were kept confidential, Ms Liew, 54, stressed. The most susceptible were the elderly, people who had lost their jobs and caregivers 'who face a lot of stress'. The most common kinds of mental illnesses include depression, extreme mood swings, as well as schizophrenia.

Studies indicate that about 16 per cent of Singaporeans suffer from depression, but fewer than half seek help. The number of students under the age of 18 who seek psychiatric help has more than doubled from 1,100 in 1990 to almost 2,000 in 2000. Of this number, about half were in primary school.
posted by Rita Goh @ 2:50 PM   0 comments  
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Practical Tips to Overcome Depression
If you know the symptoms of depression, you should also know some strategies for reducing the problem. Depression can be the result of many things, and it is necessary that you avoid those circumstances that upset you or make you feel depressed.

Every day, stories appear in print media and television that are mostly negative, highlighting the economic and social deprivations of humanity. Stories focused on destruction, war, crime, doom and despair will only aggravate the problem of depression rather than solve it. Avoid reading such negative stories and events.

Always think and see the positive side of life. Occasionally, when negative thoughts occur, I dismissed those thoughts and replace them with positive ones through self talk. Say good things about others, share with them your most memorable moments, and set aside all such moments that depress you.

Indulge yourself in lots of physical exercises. Because of exercise, someone I know who is suffering from mental illness has not had a relapse in the past five years despite not taking any medications. Having said that, never stop your medication without consulting your doctor. A healthy body is the root to a healthy mind, attitude, and thinking. Regular practice of breathing exercises will help you overcome your depression problems. These tips to reduce depression are simple but can work wonders if followed with determination and will.

Do not keep too many goals and expectations that will depress you further. Always keep aside one important goal that you think is necessary to achieve. When you try for many things at one go, you only aggravate the problem of depression.

Learn as much as you can about depression. To further understand my illness and the management of it, I did some research on the Internet, read books and attended mental health seminars, courses and talks.

Depression causes a serious imbalance of brain chemicals and many other internal changes that need serious medication and treatment. It is not something you should be ashamed of. Remember, it is not your fault.

Depression is just like any other illness which just needs full support from the family. I was fortunate to have the unconditional love, care, concern, encouragement and unflagging support from family members and friends, especially my husband Vincent and my best friend Irene. Indeed, their strong emotional support contributed immensely to my speedy and successful recovery.

Never allow depression to grow in isolation. Make it a point to have your near and dear ones around you. Socialize as much as you can when you feel depressed. That will mitigate your problem to a great extent. Watch good movies, especially comedy, or visit funny and humorous web sites or read funny books. Light things will make you feel good and reduce your depression problem.

Try to engage yourself in as many activities as possible such as singing and dancing. Irene and I make it a point to go to karaoke at least once a week. After each session, it helps to rejuvenate the mind and soul.

Try to hold as few grudges as you can. This can only aggravate your frustration level and cause depression. The more you learn to forgive and forget, the better for you. Always reserve a quiet time where you can spend quality time with yourself. This certainly does not mean isolation. It is essential because this is the time you give to yourself.
posted by Rita Goh @ 7:32 PM   0 comments  
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Baby Boomers and Depression
In April 2004, at the age of 47, I was diagnosed as suffering from severe depression. It came as a shock to my family members and friends who knew about it as I was known to be bubbly, positive minded, posses great inner strength and have the ability to overcome any challenges, be it minor or major. I have been told that the first questions that came to their minds was, 'why she?', 'why in her late 40s?' and 'what could have caused it?'

Globally, depression is the most common disability. It is often found in baby boomers. Why is it that boomers have a better chance of having major depression? The answer is that in the daily quest for success and wealth, as well as in the effort of raising healthy children, a stressful situation can be created. Baby boomers show higher rates of depression than do previous generations. Studies show that stress is a major reason for this. It wasn't so in my case. During the time I was diagnosed, I was not under any undue stress. I have just completed my PhD and was awaiting to begin my career as an university lecturer. Besides, I had a supportive husband, three wonderful children, and no financial problems. Could it be due to genetic factors? I have an aunty who suffers from mental illness. However, I remembered that I was struggling with the symptoms of menopause during that period of time. There are scientific evidences showing that menopause can trigger off mental illness.

It's a shame that depression is frequently misdiagnosed and not treated. Research shows that in may suicide cases involving adults, these people have visited their doctor shortly beforehand. In fact, as many as 20 percent had been to their doctor the same day, double this number within a week, and as much as 70 percent had seen their doctor in the last month. So where does one go for help? If your depression is mild, you may well be able to benefit from simple, self-help measures, but when the condition is more severe, you must see a psychiatrist immediately. You must be honest about your problem. Otherwise, your doctor cannot be blamed for a bad diagnosis. You should make sure your doctor understands the extent and severity of your depression. If you're asked whether you've had suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming others, make sure to be up-front about it. That will be the first step of the treatment and might save your life. Most doctors prescribed medications that will raise serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate within the brain. The medication that I am taking for my depression is Prozac, a drug that does not have as many side-effects as its predecessors. Remember that some medications will not work for some people, while others will. Keep trying until you find the right one. There are times when medication is insufficient to get me out of my depression. Therefore, I had to look beyond medication. This is where counseling helps.

I sought the help of a psychotherapist to get at the root causes of my problem. Don’t underestimate the benefits of therapy. You can learn relaxation and breathing techniques, and your therapist can help you organize your life. They can also help you look at the specific reasons for your depression. It's typical to see improvement between six and eight weeks after therapy begins. After ten counseling sessions, counseling helped tremendously in untying the knots in my heart and mind. Slowly but surely, I regained my self-confidence and self-esteem. Depression can be a lonely illness, and people affected by it often suffer silently. You have the option to treat it. First recognize the problem and get help. Depression can cause many problems, and even ruin your personal and family life. Learn all you can about it, and get a good therapist to help you get your life back on track. Some people have been depressed for years without knowing it. A good therapist can help figure out at what point the depression began.
posted by Rita Goh @ 5:01 PM   0 comments  
Monday, November 20, 2006
What's this blog about?
This blog is dedicated to helping people in depression.
If you are depressed, I hope the information here will be of help to you.
I have written a book about how I recovered from mental illness and depression.
posted by Rita Goh @ 12:44 AM   0 comments  
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