The Hidden Costs of Depression No One Knows About and How You Can Combat Them

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When Singaporeans think of mental health issues, images of crazy people in straitjackets come to mind. That’s why despite increasing numbers of Singaporeans being diagnosed with depression due to escalating stress levels, going for therapy is still somewhat taboo, and many end up suffering in silence, or at least with a lot of complaining.

Well, guess what, being depressed might not only be making you feel like a worm of the lowest order, it could also be draining your wallet… and being Singaporean, let’s just face up to the fact that money is likely to be a huge source of your consternation. Here are a few ways this might be happening:

 

You spend money to make yourself feel better

When you’re constantly depressed, you’re in no position to make wise spending decisions. In fact, the first thing you think of when you reach for your wallet is how to make yourself feel better. Retail therapy is a huge example of emptying your wallet in order to banish from your mind that awful day at work.

If you constantly find yourself wandering around shopping malls like some ghost that’s lost its way to the underworld, desperate to buy something, anything that can make you feel better, it might be time to assess your mental state. The same goes for constantly drowning your sorrows in litres of liquor and getting addicted to beauty and spa treatments.

 

You sacrifice long-term goals for short-term ones

No matter what your dreams are, it’s hard to keep your focus on them when you can barely haul yourself out of bed each morning. Sure, you might have told yourself you were going to save up and buy your dream home, move to another country or put your kids through university.

But depression has a habit of making life seem meaningless and sapping your motivation to achieve your goals. Your main focus shifts to short-term goals—making it through the workday without stabbing anyone in the face, making the long nights seem shorter and keeping the stress at bay.

 

You’re not motivated to perform at work

If you’re in the sort of job that pays you the same wage no matter how you perform and there aren’t too many incentives to improve, you can probably get by during this period. But those whose career progress and remuneration are dependent on job performance can expect to fare badly during bouts of depression.

For instance, if you’re a rookie insurance agent whose commission depends your on being all gung-ho and prospecting like crazy, your decreased motivation is going to have an impact on your performance. Those who are self-employed might fare even worse. For instance, I have a friend who’s a private tutor and when he feels depressed he ends up cancelling sessions because he can’t stand to see the kids’ faces.

 

Your health suffers

Depression might be a mental condition, but it does bring with it physical effects. In the short term, you might experience fatigue, insomnia and decreased appetite. Nothing too serious since it seems like everyone else in Singapore experiences these three things, right? Well, in the long term you’re also putting yourself at increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. And as everyone in Singapore knows, getting sick is expensive here.

 

How to cope

If you’re suffering from depression, get help immediately and then work up the discipline to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Any psychiatrist will tell you that daily exercise and a healthier diet will help to keep the chemical imbalance in your brain at bay. You need to differentiate between spending money on stuff that improves your condition—such as exercise, a healthier diet and therapy—and stuff that just helps you forget the pain for a few fleeting moments.

Have you ever been depressed? Tell us what your spending habits were like in the comments.

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.