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Everyone has probably experienced feeling depressed from time to time, which is normal. But when does that feeling become too far and too much? When is the time that you should seek help for your emotional struggles? In this article you will find out more about depression and some of its signs, and hopefully help you or someone you love that might be struggling with depression.

What is depression ?

Depression is a common and serious mental disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and act. It causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. It can lead to many physical and emotional problems, a decrease of one’s ability to function at school/work and even their daily activities. Sometimes, you may feel as if life isn’t worth living anymore. Depression may require long term treatment but please don’t be discouraged and seek out professional help. In fact, many people that suffer from depression feel much better with medication, psychotherapy or both. When you are physically sick, you go see a doctor so when you are mentally sick, it is perfectly fine to seek help from a professional.

Some statistics about depression in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has one of the longest working hours in the world (51.1 hours per week), with 39% of people working 4-8 hours overtime each week, hence 1 in 4 Hong Kong workers suffer symptoms of depression - it is 2.5 times the global average - and around 18% require psychological treatment. Hong Kong ranked 45th out of 50 countries in work-life balance and ranked top for overworked cities. That is why depression disorders are one of the two most common mental illnesses in Hong Kong.

Teen depression is also a common problem among the world. A study of 2685 of secondary school students across 14 schools has shown that 51% reported symptoms of depression, a shockingly high number.

The global pandemic COVID-19 has been going on for the past one and a half years and has largely affected humanity. Many more are experiencing signs of depression, making it more important to spread awareness of mental health and look out for any loved ones that might be struggling.

Symptoms of someone struggling with depression

Depression symptoms in teen

  • Sadness

  • Irritability

  • Feeling of negativity and worthlessness

  • Anger

  • Poor performance / attendance at school

  • Feeling misunderstood and being extremely sensitive

  • Using recreational drugs and alcohol

  • Eating / sleeping too much

  • Self harm

  • Loss of interest in normal activities

  • Avoidance of social interactions

Depression symptoms in adults

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness

  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports

  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort

  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain

  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame

  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Risk factors/ causes of depression

Causes :

  • Biological differences

  • Brain chemistry

  • Hormones

  • Inherited traits

Risk factors : (depression often begins in teen years, but it can occur at any age)

  • Certain personality traits

  • Traumatic or stressful events

  • Blood relatives with a history of depression

  • Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or having variations in the development of genital organs that aren't clearly male or female (intersex) in an unsupportive situation

  • History of other mental health disorders

  • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs

  • Serious or chronic illness

  • Certain medications

Complications of Depression

Depression, like any other illness, is harder to treat the longer one does not seek help. This could lead to emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect different areas of life;

  • Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes

  • Pain or physical illness

  • Alcohol or drug misuse

  • Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia

  • Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems

  • Social isolation

  • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide

  • Self-mutilation, such as cutting

  • Premature death from medical conditions

How to help / talk to someone who suffer with depression


  • “I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

  • “Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

  • “I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.”

  • “You’re not alone. I’m here for you during this tough time.”

  • “It may be hard to believe right now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”

  • “Please tell me what I can do now to help you.”

  • “Even if I’m not able to understand exactly how you feel, I care about you and want to help.”

  • “You’re important to me. Your life is important to me.”

  • “When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold on for just one more day, hour, or minute—whatever you can manage.”


  • “This is all in your head”

  • “Everyone goes through tough times.”

  • “Try to look on the bright side.”

  • “Why do you want to die when you have so much to live for?”

  • “I can’t do anything about your situation.”

  • “Just snap out of it.”

  • “You should be feeling better by now.”


Depression is a serious mental illness and if you find yourself or a loved one having any of these symptoms, you/they are encouraged to seek help as soon as possible. Remember, the sooner they find help, the earlier they will feel better. You are not alone in this.

Researcher: Tiffany


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