depression Depression


What is depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder, characterised by symptoms such as persistently depressed mood, loss of interest and energy, and negative thoughts. It disrupts people's daily living, such as their work and social life. Severe depression may also lead to risk of suicide.


How common is depression?
Prevalence rate

According to the Hong Kong Mental Morbidity Survey (HKMMS) 2010-2013, about 3% of Hong Kong Chinese, aged between 16 and 75 years, suffer from depression at the time of survey.

Gender ratio

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. In the HKMMS survey, the female to male ratio of having a depressive disorder is about 1.6:1.

Age of onset

The most probable period for the onset of the first episode of major depression extends from mid-adolescence to mid-40s. In terms of prevalence, the ratio of people suffering from depression increases with age, with people in the 66-75 age group showing the highest prevalence rate.


What causes depression?

what causes depression?

Medical researches and studies have discovered the following risk factors of depression and they are:

Genetic factors

People with one immediate family member (e.g. either parent, sibling) suffering from depression, have 1.5 to 3 times higher risk than the general population to suffer from depression.

Biological factors

Apart from the dysfunction of brain neurotransmitters, other physiological conditions such as hypothyroidism, systemic lupus erythematosus, and effects of drugs and alcohol also contribute to the development of depression.

Personality factors

People who are easily anxious, inflexible, and setting excessively high standards on themselves or others but lacking acceptance, are more prone to develop depression.

Environmental and societal factors

Stressful life events, family and interpersonal difficulties, excessive burden from school, workplace and family all contribute to mental stress. Failing to manage such accumulated stress effectively may induce depression.


What are the symptoms of depression?

what are the symptoms of depression?

When we experience frustrations in life, it is normal for us to feel disappointed and sad. However, if we experience multiple below listed symptoms, which have persisted for more than 2 weeks, and are significantly affecting our normal functioning like work and social relationships, then there may be signs of depression. Professional help should be sought.

Main symptoms of depression:

  • Persistently depressed mood, such as feeling sad
  • Lose of interest, inability to feel pleasure
  • No longer doing things or joining activities previously enjoyable
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Self-harms, or even suicidal attempts or preparations, such as writing a suicide note or giving beloved belongings to others
  • Excessive guilt or self-blame, low self-esteem
  • Slowness of thinking, loss of concentration, indecisiveness
  • Thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Fatigue, loss of energy
  • Change of appetite and significant change of body weight
  • Somatic pains, sleep disturbance or hypersomnia


What is postnatal depression?

Please visit the following page for more information on Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health. (


What are the treatments of depression?

Effective treatments for depression include: 

1) Medication

Antidepressant is the most common drug used for enhancing the transmission of serotonin in the brain that affects moods. On the other hand, it promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an essential factor for maintaining brain cells healthy, to compensate for the inhibition of BDNF due to stress. It is also effective in preventing relapse.

2) Psychological treatment

e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy

The treatment regime should be tailored to patients. If you are experiencing the abovementioned symptoms or have any inquiry about your current treatment, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor.  

For more details, please visit:




How to support and help people with depression?
Tips for caregivers:
Watch out for early signs of relapse:

such as insomnia for unknown reason, and depressed mood, so that treatment can be sought promptly.

Avoid blaming:

People with depression may be mistaken as "lazy", "unmotivated" or "stubborn", but these are symptoms of the illness, instead of their true character. Avoid blaming them for their symptoms.

Be a good listener:

Encouraging, but not forcing, them to share their feelings and difficulties, listening to them patiently, showing acceptance, and giving time and appropriate supports to them.

Maintain regular life:

Providing a peaceful and comfortable environment for them, and facilitating them to engage in regular daily activities as far as possible.

Encourage social interactions:

Encouraging them to maintain personal interactions with others, such as keeping contacts with those they have good relationship or they feel comfortable to meet.

Get more understandings:

Helping them to gain more understanding of their course of illness, and encouraging or accompanying them to seek treatment and cooperate with mental health care professionals.

Monitor regularly:

Pay attention to any changes in mood and mental state of the individual. If any self-harming behaviours and/or abnormal behaviour are noted, one should seek help from health care professionals as soon as possible.

Take care of yourself:

Supporting emotionally disturbed people is a long-term challenge. So carers need to look after their own physical and mental health, to rest and regenerate, and then to accompany patients to get out from troubled time. Ask for help when necessary.



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Radio i Care 友心情網上電台 [彤你講心] 麥曦茵 - 我的電影世界 第二節 香港社會服務聯會- 社聯頻道 努力展新生 精神病康復者成勤奮好員工 Radio i Care 友心情網上電台YouTube channel中有關抑鬱症的短片

Reference source(s): Websites of the Institute of Mental Health Castle Peak Hospital and Kwai Chung Hospital