Like many, we are saddened by the tragic news of the apparent suicide of Robin Williams, an extraordinarily talented actor and comedian.
His untimely death was reportedly linked to his struggles with severe depression over many years.
Statistics (worldwide, and in Singapore) point towards a worrying growth trend in the number of people with depression.
The good news is that recovery is possible with proper treatment.
Many people affected by depression feel "alone and afraid", as Williams admitted he felt, in a revealing interview with The Guardian back in 2003.
They also often report feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, a loss of interest in daily activities, changes in sleep patterns, self-loathing and other maladaptive behaviour patterns.
In such instances, seeking professional help early is imperative, particularly when the affected person has a preoccupation about killing or harming himself.
Frequently, people with severe depression are unwilling or unable to seek help themselves.
Thus, it is very important that those closest to them take the necessary steps to obtain professional help on their behalf.
The Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) offers a range of services for people with various levels of depressive disorders and other mental health issues.
These include professional counselling, residential homes and aftercare services, day-care centres, support groups and a mobile support team.
SAMH operates a toll-free Helpline at 1800-283 7019.
People who have depression are more vulnerable to hurting themselves physically or through alcohol and drug abuse in their attempts to escape from their fears and problems.
It is a sobering fact that depression can strike anyone at any stage of life. The good news is that like other illnesses, people can and do recover with proper treatment.
SAMH has seen many cases of people recovering fully from their illness and returning to lead normal lives.
It gives us hope that even in the increasingly stressful society that we live in, we can still aim to achieve our vision of "mental wellness for all".
This article was first published on August 18, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.