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depressed person

Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a marked increase in patients seeking support for mental health, many for the first time. We’re also seeing an increase in teenagers and children in the clinic, with parents concerned about their mental wellbeing.

What do we mean by mental health?
Mental health relates to your emotional and mental wellbeing. Mental health problems are common but treatable.

How do I know if I’m feeling a little down or am depressed?
You may be depressed if you have more than two weeks of low mood, poor motivation, difficulties with initiating activities, disturbed sleep and appetite, and the inability to enjoy pleasurable activities. It can be hard to identify the border between feeling a bit flat and mental illness – reach out to your doctor who can guide you.
A doctor will review:

  • Duration and severity of symptoms
  • Physical signs
  • Impact on day-to-day functioning
  • Effects on others

When should I seek support for anxiety?
High anxiety can impact your daily activities, work performance, and relationships, causing self-doubt and affecting your self esteem. You may experience difficulties relaxing, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, sweating, discomfort in your chest and stomach, inability to focus and concentrate, sleep issues, and change in appetite and sex drive. Anxiety can worsen chronic conditions like asthma, eczema, or blood pressure. Activities that would normally help you to relax, no longer work. If this sounds like you, please seek support.

I think my partner may be depressed – what can I do?
An open discussion in a non-judgmental and supportive manner is the first step. It’s important to find time to listen to your partner and give them an opportunity to express their feelings. Empathy goes a long way.

Some things to say:

  • “I’m here if you want to talk.”
  • “You’re not alone.”
  • “There is a way to recover from this.”

Things NOT to say:

  • “Pull yourself together.”
  • “Go and get some help.”
  • “Cheer up.”

Suggest they see a friendly doctor and offer to go with them for support.

What else can I do to protect my family’s mental health?
Maintain a healthy lifestyle with good sleep, regular exercise, nutritional balance, moderation with alcohol and quit smoking. Limit your exposure to negative press and schedule regular time to check in on each other.

Finding sources of help in a foreign country can be challenging – ask for help!
Be mindful of your own mental wellbeing, while being there for others.

Dr Valerie Druon is a French-speaking Australian family physician based at Osler Health Star Vista.

How can a GP help?
We see patients all the time who are suffering with mental health challenges. We are here to help and have the knowledge and resources. Call us on +65 6339 2727