Occasionally, stress at work causes me to feel blue and demoralised for a couple of days. Do I have depression or is my reaction considered normal?

Depression, as defined by healthcare professionals, refers to people who are unable to function normally. For example, they do not want to get out of bed, they just feel like crying, and they cannot imagine happy moments in their life. A person who feels sad all the time — 24/7 for at least two weeks — is considered clinically depressed.

When one experiences emotions that cause one to become dysfunctional, this may be a sign of mental health issues.

It is important not to suppress such feelings. That can lead to negative results, where the person lashes out at everybody or where the person takes it out on himself through self-sabotage or even self-harm.

Studies have shown that people in their 20s to mid-30s have the highest proportion of poor mental health. This is most likely because they are at the stage of life when they are still developing their emotions and cognitive functions. So it is normal for them to feel more stressed than others. As young adults, they are starting to make major life decisions for themselves.

Today, there is more willingness to talk about mental health issues.

Dr Evelyn Boon
Head, Department of Psychology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH)