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Depression is a common mental health condition that causes people to experience chronic sadness, depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disrupted sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration.

Types of Depression

There are several different types of depression, with varying levels of severity.

  1. Persistent Depressive Order - Where depressed mood and symptoms can last for at least two years. Could experience major depressive episodes but with less severe symptoms.

  2. Postpartum Depression - Affects women during and after pregnancy. They would experience extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion, making it difficult to care for themselves and their baby.

  3. Seasonal Affective Disorder - A type of depression that is dependent on seasonality and depending on the individual, may occur during summer or winter. Both have distinctive symptoms.


Signs & Symptoms

It is imperative to recognise the signs and symptoms of depression as 1 in 10 with this condition end up committing suicide. Almost half who have depression do not get diagnosed or treated.


  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

  • Fatigue

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness

  • Pessimism and hopelessness

  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much

  • Crankiness

  • Restlessness

  • Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex

  • Overeating, or appetite loss

  • Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away

  • Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts

Physical signs:

  • Back pain

  • Headaches

  • Joint pain

  • Limb pain

  • Digestion issues and belly pain

  • Constant lethargy

  • Problem with sleeping

  • Slowing of physical movement and thought process


Causes of Depression

Strictly speaking, the cause of depression for each individual is different. Often, a combination of things leads to depression. The causes may be split into two major categories:

Reasons which are internal to the person (e.g. biological factors and negative thinking styles), and those which are external to the person (e.g. stressful work environment, or interpersonal conflict).

Individuals with a family history of depression or other mood disorders would be more prone to depression. An inactive frontal lobe could also increase the risk of depression. Untreated childhood trauma could worsen as you age, eventually causing the spiral into depression. Certain medical conditions and medications could also cause depression indirectly.


Getting Treatment

When it comes to treating depression, patients are traditionally prescribed anti-depressants. Depending on the severity, some may also receive anti-anxiety and antipsychotic pills. Naturally, each medication does come with its own side effects so it is not ideal to be too reliant on these drugs.

Alternative treatment includes solo or group psychotherapy, where patients may confide in psychologists with their thoughts and feelings. This helps them cope with negative feelings, strengthen communication skills within the individual, and build up a social support network.


Helpline and Resources

  1. Thrive Well 

  2. Befrienders

    • KL: 03-7956 8145 (24 hours)

    • Ipoh: 05-547 7933 (4pm to 11pm)

    • Penang: 04-281 5161 (3pm to midnight)

    • E-Mail:

  3. Malaysian Mental Health Association

  4. SOLS Health 

  5. Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA

  6. Life Line Association Malaysia

  7. RELATE Malaysia

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