Depressed mood is a universal experience in response to disappointments, discouragements and defeats. When a person fails his exam or when a close friend emigrates to another country, it is normal to feel sad. But this feeling of sadness does not last more than a few days, and usually does not interfere with one’s daily activities. It is just a depressed mood and not an illness.
In contrast, depressive illness lasts for weeks to months, even years. It improves with treatment but is prone to recurrence. These symptoms are severe enough to cause loss of efficiency and disruption to work, family life and studies.
Annual prevalence rates range from 0.80-5.8% whereas lifetime prevalence rates range from 1.5-16.4%. In Singapore it is about 5% (Chua et al, 2004).
Women have a relatively higher rate of occurrence of depression than men. The sex ratio is 2:1.
In females, depression is more common in the married than the never-married groups. Women with three or more children below age 14 are more at risk. In males, the single, divorced and widowed are more likely to be depressed.
Depression is much more common in those in the lower income group. The retired or unemployed are more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Those living alone are also at a higher risk. Social isolation generates feelings of loneliness such that in times of trouble there is no one to confide in.
Subscribe to our mailing list to get the updates to your inbox