The 5 most common anxiety symptoms to look out for include excessive worrying, fatigue, dissociation, panic attacks, and irrational fears.  

These 5 symptoms can disrupt our daily functioning, influence our social relationships, and affect our academic or work performance.  

Many people may have anxiety at some point in their lives. In fact, the feeling of anxiety is so common that many of us may also experience it regularly.  

However, when anxiety symptoms become larger than the situations that caused them and significantly affect our lives, they could be symptoms of an anxiety disorder 

In this article, we discuss the 5 most common symptoms of anxiety to look out for and when to seek professional counselling 

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion that may include feelings of worry, tension, stress, and physical changes like a pounding heart or high blood pressure.  

Anxiety and fear are usually used interchangeably, although there are differences between them.  

Anxiety is a future-oriented and chronic response that we may give to perceived threats, whereas fear is a present-oriented and appropriate response to specific and real threats.  

Occasional anxiety is a part of life. For example, people may have anxiety about their work, finances, or family issues – but this anxiety is temporary.  

Anxiety disorders do not go away easily and may even worsen over time, especially without the right counselling services 

When this anxiety worsens, it may lead to other conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, or phobia-related disorders.  

Person with hands on their head due to anxiety symptoms

What Is an Anxiety Disorder?

An anxiety disorder is a type of psychological condition which may include anxiety symptoms such as dread, fear, and a pounding heart.  

Physical symptoms of anxiety could include sweating, shaking, muscle pain, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and so on. 

Sometimes, the feeling of anxiety can be helpful as it helps us notice dangerous situations. But when anxiety becomes so intense that we start dreading the future and imagine danger, it could cause us more harm.  

An anxiety disorder usually occurs when: 

  • It interferes with daily functioning 
  • We react intensely to normal situations 
  • We cannot control our emotional responses to any situations 

It can be hard to live with anxiety symptoms. Fortunately, counselling in Singapore can provide effective therapeutic plans to treat and manage anxiety disorders. 

Do I Have Anxiety or Am I Just Anxious?

Being anxious isn’t always unhealthy. Anxiety is a spectrum of sorts, where we can either have normal daily anxiety that helps us protect ourselves or intense anxiety that may interfere with our lives.  

In general, psychologists may diagnose someone with an anxiety disorder if the anxiety: 

  • Is out of proportion to the actual situation 
  • Is not age-appropriate 
  • Impairs the ability to function healthily 

Another way you can identify if you have anxiety or are just feeling anxious is to notice your responses to situations and uncertainty.  

For example, if you have an anxiety disorder, you may have out-of-the-ordinary emotional responses and excessive anticipatory stress to uncertainty.  

On the one hand, with normal feelings of anxiety, a person may quickly move on from the situation.  

On the other hand, an ‘abnormal’ anxiety, or anxiety disorder, is defined by uncontrollable worries that may not go away easily, even when there’s nothing to fear or worry about. 

5 Anxiety Symptoms

The anxiety symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder. However, we have listed 5 anxiety symptoms that you can use as a guide to analyse if you struggle with anxiety. 

1. Excessive Worrying

The most common anxiety symptom is worrying excessively and without any control. 

The worry may be completely disproportionate to the current situation. For example, a student who has already finished their exam and scored well may still worry about their performance in the next year’s exam.  

The student might say, “What if I fail next year’s exam? What if I don’t know any answers.” This thought is disproportionate as the student may be studying well and may even be a high scorer.  

Excessive worrying is usually common in generalised anxiety disorder. A psychologist may diagnose someone with GAD if the anxiety symptoms last for at least 6 months and are uncontrollable.  

The worrying may also be intrusive. Intrusive thoughts or worries may include disturbing or negative images, thoughts, and feelings.  

These intrusive thoughts may affect a person’s ability to: 

  • Concentrate 
  • Pay attention 
  • Make decisions 
  • Trust their instincts and thoughts 

Based on recent research, nearly 1.6% of Singaporeans struggle with generalised anxiety disorder.  

2. Fatigue

Fatigue refers to extreme tiredness. People with anxiety disorders may experience severe fatigue that makes it hard to get out of bed, cook for themselves, or even take care of their daily hygiene.  

Common signs of fatigue include: 

  • Tired eyes 
  • Headaches 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Tired legs 
  • Stiff shoulders 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Boredom 
  • Restlessness 
  • Discomfort or unease in the body 

Some people with anxiety symptoms may feel fatigued after an anxiety attack, while others may feel fatigued throughout the day.  

The causes of fatigue can be multiple. For example, a person may have fatigue due to anxiety symptoms, muscle tension, insomnia, or even hormonal effects of chronic anxiety and stress. 

Sometimes, fatigue can also point to other mental health conditions, such as: 

Hence, fatigue cannot be used as the single determinant to diagnose someone with an anxiety disorder. 

However, if you have severe fatigue and one or two of the other anxiety symptoms, you may want to consider seeking professional support to explore further.  

3. Dissociation

Dissociation or derealisation is losing touch with reality and one’s current surroundings. Imagine looking at yourself from a third-person perspective; that could be similar to how dissociation feels. 

Dissociation is an anxiety symptom where a person may be in a dissociative state and cannot identify themselves, their thoughts, memories, and sometimes, even their identity.  

A person can be in a dissociative state during an anxiety attack or may relapse to the state once in a while, especially if they struggle with chronic anxiety.  

When you are in a dissociative state, you may not remember the things that occurred during dissociation. This can last for a few minutes and up to multiple days and weeks, depending on the severity of your anxiety.  

Mild symptoms of dissociation could include daydreaming, becoming immersed in a particular media, or struggling with highway hypnosis (ie zoning out during driving).  

Severe symptoms of dissociation could include identity confusion, feeling like you are not real, memory issues, intense mood swings, memory lapses, and feeling as though the world is fake.  

If you are living with anxiety, you may use dissociation as a coping mechanism during extreme stress or panic.  

A person dissociating due to anxiety symptoms

4. Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are an intense fear response to stressful situations. A person may have a panic attack suddenly, once in a while, or regularly.  

Experiencing regular panic attacks may lead to panic disorder. However, a panic attack is also an anxiety symptom. 

Physical symptoms of panic attacks could include nausea, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, and intense sweating.  

The DSM-5 indicates that panic attacks can be unexpected or expected.  

Unexpected panic attacks may appear without a clear trigger or cause. Expected panic attacks may occur due to external stressors such as work stress or maladaptive behaviours 

Usually, people with anxiety disorders may experience expected panic attacks, as the cause is often clear (eg overthinking about the future, uncertainty, dread about an exam). 

5. Irrational Fears

Fear is natural and, most of the time, even important. It is our brain’s way of telling us when we’re in danger physically or emotionally. 

However, this fear may become irrational when it is out of proportion to the situation. Irrational fears are a common anxiety symptom.  

For example, irrational fear may appear before an interview, during flight turbulence, or even after presenting a project.  

The person may become terrified of the possibility of dying during the turbulence, failing an interview even after optimal preparation, and imagining getting fired due to a bad presentation.  

The fear may become problematic and indicate severe anxiety when the person starts avoiding events and people due to their fear.  

For example, they may never take vacations that may require a flight or may avoid attending interviews even if it means that they may stay unemployed for a long time.  

Irrational fears may occur even when there is no threat or danger. The fear can also be related to future events.  

The fear comes with intense and disturbing thoughts and a chaotic emotional reaction (eg panic attacks).  

Another common example is fear in social situations, also known as social anxiety. 

For example, going on dates or socialising with strangers has no real danger. But a person with irrational fear may worry about a fictional situation in extremes, like their date humiliating or shaming them. This thought may cause the person to stop dating altogether.  

Some other common types of phobias include: 

  • Fear of animals 
  • Fear of drowning 
  • Fear of natural calamities like hurricanes 
  • Fear of needles and injections 

When to Seek Professional Help for Anxiety Symptoms

A psychologist assessing anxiety symptoms in a client during psychotherapy

A few important factors can help you identify if you have an anxiety disorder or if you are feeling anxious about a specific and temporary problem.  

These factors include: 

  • Intensity of symptoms 
  • Frequency of symptoms 
  • Duration 
  • Interference 
  • Triggers 
  • Influence on your overall life 

Questions to help you reflect on whether you need professional therapy

  • Does your anxiety feel so intense that you are unable to perform a specific activity? Do you find it hard to manage these symptoms when they occur?  
  • Do you notice that your symptoms occur regularly, perhaps once or twice a day?  
  • Do your anxiety symptoms disappear after you handle the situation? Or do you experience anxiety for a long time? For example, if you have an interview, does your anxiety remain all day and even after you finish giving the interview? Or are you anxious about everything all the time? (ie GAD) 
  • Does your anxiety affect your ability to perform other regular activities like maintaining friendships or engaging in self-care? 
  • Do you have any specific triggers that make you feel anxious? Or do you have so many triggers that you stop doing common things like shopping or travelling?  
  • Try to think about how your anxiety symptoms affect your overall life. Are you struggling to work, form relationships, or feel part of a community? How would you want to live your life if it weren’t for your anxiety?  

Also, consider how your anxiety symptoms affect your life. For example, if you fear snakes, you may find it easy to avoid them.  

However, if you have social anxiety, it may be harder for you to avoid all social situations, and this fear will likely affect your life much more.  

If your anxiety symptoms consistently affect your life or make it hard to function every day, you can consider seeking a Singaporean counsellor 

An anxiety attack is a sudden and extreme episode of fear. Although anxiety attacks can occur without a reason, they may also be linked to specific triggers (eg exams and presentations). 

An anxiety attack and a panic attack are not the same. Panic attacks have a clinical definition, whereas an anxiety attack is not listed as a formal term in the DSM 5.  

Sometimes, people may use the term ‘anxiety attack’ to refer to stress, worry, or even intense fear that could be classified as panic.  

Anxiety attacks can be controlled and stopped by following certain self-care strategies. Here’s how to identify an anxiety attack and find the relief you need.  

What Is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack occurs when we build up stressors that may lead to a breakdown over time.  

For example, a conflict in a relationship, family issues that may make a person feel like their mom hates them, or overloaded work tasks could gradually increase anxiousness until the person feels extremely overwhelmed for a period.  

An anxiety attack could trigger symptoms like lack of focus, panic, tension, irritability, restlessness, or even fatigue. 

If you have anxiety symptoms, you may want to consider talking to a counsellor. Your counsellor in Singapore may conduct clinical interviews and observations to rule out other mental health conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms. 

Since an anxiety attack is not a formal diagnosis, you may be diagnosed with some type of anxiety disorder depending on your primary and secondary symptoms.  

Most commonly, people who experience anxiety attacks may have a generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder.  

Symptoms of an Anxiety Attack

Other than fear and stress, people may also experience other symptoms of anxiety attacks, such as: 

  • Staying alert for signs of danger 
  • Anticipating the worst 
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention 
  • Brain fog (ie feeling like the mind has gone blank) 
  • Worry or stress 

Moreover, anxiety attack comes with several physical symptoms as well. These include:  

  • Insomnia 
  • Dry mouth  
  • Muscle pain or soreness 
  • Headaches 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Nausea 
  • Sweating 
  • Shaking or trembling 
  • Frequent urination  
  • Diarrhea 
  • Pounding heart rate 
Person sitting on the couch and looking upset due to an anxiety attack

How to Stop an Anxiety Attack

Not everyone who resonates with the above symptoms may have an anxiety attack. 

However, many of us may feel frustrated at how often these symptoms appear in our lives.  

Although an anxiety attack may seem intrusive and uncontrollable, remember that by following certain effective self-care tools, you can calm your nerves and control your anxiety.  

1. Try Visualisation Exercises

Visualisation is a technique of envisioning an image, scene, or situation in the mind. It is a mental exercise used to prepare for the future or to control one’s emotions.  

Moreover, visualisation and action are strongly linked. Thinking about our body or mind doing something – dancing or saying a sentence out loud – directly activates the motor cortex. 

A common example is visualising our presentation or speech before walking upstage. We do this as a mental rehearsal before the actual event.  

Counsellors may use visualisation techniques as a part of several interventions for anxiety and other mental health conditions.  

For example, visualisation is often used by psychotherapists to help change the narrative about a person or an event that may have caused post-trauma stress or an anxiety attack.  

By making the visualisation as vivid as possible and engaging all the senses during the activity, clients may learn how to talk about their presenting problems and cope with the negative effects. 

Apart from treating psychological disorders, there are other proven benefits of visualisation exercises, including: 

  • Building confidence and self-image 
  • Gaining motivation to achieve your goals 
  • Becoming more creative  
  • Relieving stress  
  • Increasing the quality of sleep 
  • Manage emotions 

Visualisation Exercise: The Blue Light Technique

The blue light technique involves visualising oneself in the middle of a calm blue light.  

Imagine you are standing in the centre where the blue light appears.  

As you inhale, imagine soaking up all the light in your body, almost as if you are filling your lungs with the blue light.  

As you exhale, visualise your anxiety floating away as dark smoke.  

Practising diaphragmatic breathing (ie breathing with your stomach, abdominals, and diaphragm) during this exercise can help you relax and reduce your body’s stress response.  

2. Listen to Your Body

When your body is showing signs of anxiety or stress, try to listen to your body.  

In essence, the better you listen to and care for your body, the less likely you are to feel anxious or negative throughout the day.  

In general, movement and sleep can go a long way toward calming down your bodily responses.  

Try to exercise regularly. Pick a form of exercise you love, such as aerobics, walking, or dancing, and aim to work out for 30 minutes daily.  

Getting quality sleep at night can help you control and reduce anxious thoughts and feelings. To sleep better, you can try the above visualisation exercise.  

More importantly, try to reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake. While these substances may seem calming, they are powerful stimulants that could lead to higher levels of anxiety.  

If your body craves strong stimulation, try drinking green tea or matcha.  

3. Meditate

Research shows that self-care or group meditation programs can effectively reduce symptoms of an anxiety attack.  

In fact, meditation can also help manage conditions such as GAD, panic disorder, and agoraphobia (ie social anxiety).  

When we are anxious, some parts of our brain stop communicating with one another. This disconnection could lead to stress responses and trigger an anxiety attack. 

However, developing our ‘mindfulness muscles’ may make us more likely to stay stable and calm in a triggering environment or situation. Our stability during anxious moments can help us prevent a hasty response.  

Moreover, when we practice self-compassion during such moments and show genuine curiosity in our experiences, we can change the neurobiology of fear and integrate the different parts of our brain again.  

In other words, mindfulness reinforces a strong communication between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system.  

As the communication is back and connected, the prefrontal cortex becomes more efficient at down-regulating an anxiety attack.

A person meditating in a park to control their anxiety attack

A Simple Meditation Exercise

When you observe an incoming anxiety attack the next time, try this exercise: 

If you are new to meditation and overwhelmed by it, start with the basics.  

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, identify your emotions/thoughts and name them. 

Example: “My stomach feels weird and tense, and I have the thought that I’m not good at anything.” or “I have a thought that something disastrous may happen on the aeroplane today.” 

Next, see if you can remove yourself from the thought’s context and notice what other feelings you are currently experiencing.  

Are you feeling scared? Sad? Angry? Defeated?  

What are the characteristics of your emotions? (ie how do you know what you’re feeling is fear?).  

To think about the characteristics of your emotions, analyse how they appear in your body. Fear and anxiety tend to settle in the gut.  

The key is not to control, change, or worry about your emotions. Observe them as if you are watching a movie.  

A UCLA study found that consistently labelling our emotions and observing their presence in our body helps us become more balanced and controlled in the presence of fear. 

4. Apply the Dare Technique

In most cases, when we have an anxiety attack, we tend to avoid them in a hurry.  

However, rather than fearing the emotions themselves, it can help to view them as temporary, accept their presence in your life briefly, and learn to work with the emotion.  

Author Barry McDonagh, in his book, “Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety,” talks about the four-step process to handle anxiety. This technique is called DARE. 

D – Defuse 

A – Accept 

R – Run towards it 

E – Engage 

Defuse, Accept, Run Towards and Engage

In the first step, you may notice that your anxious thoughts may make you think of several ‘what if’ scenarios. “What if everyone hates me?” “What if I never heal from anxiety?”  

Defuse means to respond back to those questions with, “So what?” Remind yourself that your anxiety cannot harm you and that you’ve experienced it before. “So what if everyone hates me? I don’t even know that for sure.” 

In the next step, try to accept your emotions as they are. You don’t need to change them, think of them as ‘negative’, or control your bodily responses like heart rate or sweating. Let yourself feel your emotions in depth.  

In the third step, try to tell yourself that what you’re feeling is not anxiousness but a type of excitement. Demand your mind to produce more of those sensations. It’s almost as if you’re trying reverse psychology on yourself.  

The purpose of running towards your anxiety is to show yourself that anxiety is indeed harmless, and only a flood of adrenaline. This shift in your perception can help you regain control of your emotions.  

Lastly, engage with your anxiety attack. Go with the flow. If your anxiety increases, keep observing the ebbs and flows of it. If it decreases, focus your sensations on whatever you’re doing currently. This can help you ground yourself in the present. 

5. Prioritise Building Your Community

2024 research has found that building a sense of community is key to improving mental health and coping with issues like anxiety and depression 

Loneliness or social seclusion can trigger an anxiety attack. Hence, try to improve or expand your community circle.  

When we find a community for ourselves, we relate to each other, share similar experiences, promote connection, and engage in positive activities that can boost our mood.  

You can do this by meeting your friends regularly, connecting with people with interests in your niche, joining support groups or clubs, or confiding about your worries with a loved one. 

Look for people who are going through similar experiences as yours or who understand your anxiety.  

This will give you the safe space to talk about your anxiety attack, learn about resources that you may otherwise not find anywhere and share coping mechanisms with each other.  

6. Seek Professional Counselling

While the above self-care tools can be helpful, if your anxiety attack becomes so severe that you find it hard to function in your daily life, you may want to consider seeking anxiety counselling in Singapore 

Professional counselling can help you manage an anxiety attack, become self-reliant to control your anxious feelings and improve the quality of your emotional health.  

Counsellors may use interventions such as: 

All the above interventions are used exclusively or in combination to provide personalised therapy services. 

Through consistent therapy and social support, the source of your fear becomes less frightening.  

Depression is a type of mood disorder that may appear suddenly or due to personal loss. Depression symptoms include hopelessness, emptiness, worthlessness, pessimism, guilt and shame.  

Chronic depression also affects concentration, attention span, recall abilities, social relationships, work performance, and aspects of daily functioning.  

According to WHO, nearly 264 million people around the world have depression.  

This article covers 5 major depression symptoms to look out for.  

Overview of Depression Symptoms

Counsellors may check for depression symptoms that are recurrent, severe, and indicate psychotic features (ie loss of connection with reality). 

The diagnostic criteria for depressive disorders include: 

  • Five (or more) symptoms to be present for 2 weeks or more 
  • Change in functioning in comparison to life before 2 weeks of first noticing the depression symptoms 
  • Presence of either one of the two major symptoms of depression: low mood or loss of interest or pleasure 

The symptoms of depression may manifest differently among different racial and ethnic groups. 

For example, research shows that non-white people may have more pervasive and severe symptoms of depression and are frequently underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  

Depression has many symptoms, but we will share the most easily identifiable ones. If you experience the below symptoms for most of the day and more than 2 weeks, depression counselling in Singapore can help you.  

Person sitting with no interest in reading due to depression symptoms.

1. Depressed Mood (eg Sad, Empty, Hopeless)

On the one hand, depressed people may notice signs of worthlessness and emptiness through self-reflection.  

On the other hand, loved ones may observe signs such as ‘being tearful’, responding to events with outbursts, or being pessimistic about regular activities (eg believing that today will be the worst day). 

A common way people describe their depression is through a metaphor called ‘down in the dumps.’ 

Sometimes, people tend to deny that they are sad but may show implicit symptoms of depression. These could include: 

  • Crying spills (ie crying for no reason or feeling particularly emotional over common hurdles like a rainy day or a coffee spill) 
  • Feeling ‘blah’ (ie not feeling anything, feeling numb or anxious) 
  • Somatic complaints such as body aches 

In contrast to adults, children who are depressed may show signs of irritability or a ‘cranky’ mood. The irritability caused by depression may differ from that caused by typical frustration. 

Case Study on Actor Adrian Pang

Singapore’s well-known actor, Adrian Pang, suffered from depression and could not function.    

Pang found it hard to control his emotions, struggled to get out of bed, and felt so crippled by his depression that he was unable to move normally (ie catatonia).   

In a piece in The Straits Times, he mentioned his desperate need for validation. Pang also mentioned spiralling with existential questions like “what if” and “if only”.    

The signs Adrian Pang showed strongly related to the symptoms of depressed mood.   

While some people may struggle to get out of bed, others may struggle with uncontrollable anger and irritability.    

“Seek help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.” – Adrian Pang. 

2. Brain Fog

Brain fog refers to diminished cognitive abilities. These could include difficulties with thinking, articulating, concentrating, deciding, or recalling.  

It’s like the fuzzy feeling that makes it hard to think clearly. 

Brain fog can be caused by depression or other coexisting conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or GAD 

Depression symptoms and brain fog have a strong link. For instance, depression can reduce the functioning of: 

  • Working memory  
  • Long-term memory  
  • Locus coeruleus, or the ‘blue spot’ that helps control our focus 

When we’re having difficulty recalling or making decisions, we may suffer more from brain fog. Other signs, such as insomnia, fatigue, or, in some cases, substance abuse, could negatively affect the mental cloudiness.  

Some people with brain fog may appear distracted and struggle to recollect memories. Hence, people in cognitively demanding careers may find it especially hard to cope with the depression symptoms. 

If you are an employee and struggle with depression, TYHO’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you start therapy in Singapore at a subsidised rate.  

3. Fatigue & Sleep Issues

Part of the reason why people feel depressed or empty is because they feel exhausted. Depression symptoms include a lack of energy and an unbearable feeling of fatigue.  

Fatigue, in turn, could lead to sleep issues. The two most common types of sleep issues people face due to depression are Insomnia and Hypersomnia.  

On the one hand, insomnia is finding it hard to fall asleep.  

Depressed people experience ‘middle insomnia’ (ie waking up in the middle of the night and then struggling to go back to sleep) or terminal insomnia (ie waking up too early and struggling to go back to sleep). 

On the other hand, hypersomnia is oversleeping.  

People with depression may sleep excessively at night or even during the daytime. Hypersomnia, like insomnia, could affect one’s work or academic performance, social relationships, family dynamics, and physical health 

Sometimes, if fatigue and sleep issues are the most dominant depression symptoms, the person may seek treatment for disturbed sleep instead of depression.  

However, medical doctors may guide the patient to seek depression counselling to cope with other mood symptoms.  

Person struggling to sleep due to symptoms of depression.

4. Shame & Guilt

Most people with depression have an unrealistic and negative evaluation of their worth or may be preoccupied with guilt from small mistakes.  

In fact, the guilt and shame these people experience is often misplaced. Meaning that they may blame themselves for their mental illness, believe that everything is their fault, and feel shame for struggling with depression symptoms.  

The fatigue people experience directly triggers their shame, as depressed people often stop living by their own values. For example, a person may strongly believe in productivity, but they may find it hard to stop procrastinating due to fatigue and may thus feel guilt and shame.  

When fatigue is prevalent, people may have several unfinished tasks – unpaid bills, unfinished work projects, a messy house, or an incomplete assignment.  

Due to the swamped number of tasks, people feel ashamed of not fulfilling their responsibilities. They stay under the radar about their unfinished tasks because when these tasks are revealed, so will their shame and judgement by others.  

Typically, people feel a sense of achievement after finishing a task. The ‘feel-good’ emotion occurs due to the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. 

However, the amount of dopamine released in people with depression may be insufficient. 

Hence, if the person cannot feel a sense of achievement when they get something done, then this lack of feeling usually impairs their motivation and pleasure.  

Ultimately, not wanting to finish a task may become a shameful secret. The shame, fatigue, and depressed mood act as a self-reinforcing loop. The loop looks like this: 

Low energy -> Unfinished tasks -> Low self-esteem -> Loss of accomplishment -> shame/guilt -> low energy.  

5. Thoughts of Death

Trigger Warning: Discussions of passive and active suicidal thoughts.  

Suicidal ideations are usually connected to depression. Although not everyone who is depressed may have thoughts of death, it’s important to note that suicidal tendencies can manifest in subtle ways.  

For example, some people may have active suicidal thoughts (which may need immediate crisis support), while others may have passive suicidal thoughts.  

On the one hand, passive suicidal tendency occurs when a person no longer finds any joy or happiness but they do not plan to take their life.  

It is like a ‘back-up’ plan that they might have [in case ‘something happens’]. For example, a student with academic and family pressure who struggles with passive suicidal thoughts may say, “If I don’t pass this test, I hope I somehow die.” 

Other examples include: 

  • “I wish I could never wake up from sleep.” 
  • “It’d be nice if I could disappear into a forest and never return.” 

On the other hand, active suicidal thoughts occur when the person not only lacks pleasure and motivation but may also actively plan to end their life.  

People who struggle with this depression symptom may sound like: 

  • “Tomorrow, I will take my life by ___.” 
  • “I’m planning to end my life tonight.”  

Suicide Statistics in Singapore Among Youths

Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) recently published that suicide rates among Singaporean youths aged 10-29 have increased. 

Research indicates that many Singaporeans avoid discussing suicide due to the belief that talking about it can trigger suicidal thoughts. 

However, that is untrue. Talking about suicide can be a great starting point for: 

  • Providing space for people suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies 
  • Addressing several other mental health issues that may have contributed to suicidal thoughts 
  • Encouraging people to seek counselling in Singapore 

At Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO), 80% of our clients under age 35 seek counselling for self-esteem issues.  

Other issues our clients struggle with include relationship problems, workplace burnout, anxiety disorders, and depression.  

We often assume that suicide happens suddenly and due to one single cause. However, the truth is that issues from several aspects of our lives could add up and push us to a breaking point.  

Crisis Support

If you are in a crisis or if anyone else may be in danger, the following resources can provide you with immediate help.  

  • Call emergency medical services at 995 or go to the A&E department of your nearest hospital. 
  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): Call 1767 or WhatsApp 9151 1767 for support 
  • National Anti-Violence & Sexual Harassment (NAVH): 1800 777 0000 
  • Institute of Mental Health (IMH): 6389 2222 
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800 283 7019 
  • TOUCH Community Service (youth counselling services): 1800 377 2252 

Getting Professional Support

A client and a counsellor discussing about depression symptoms.

If you suspect you may have depression, consider seeking depression counselling in Singapore 

In the initial sessions, your Therapist may evaluate your presenting problems and depression symptoms through clinical interviews and observations.  

Once completed, counsellors can assess your current state of mind and provide an appropriate and personalised therapeutic plan. 

Find the Right Counsellor

Visit the page to find the right counsellor.  

On this page, you can filter your needs based on: 

  • Issues 
  • Counsellor’s gender 
  • Therapy language 
  • Service type 
  • Medium 

Additionally, review the counsellors’ short videos and go through their descriptions and therapeutic approaches.  

Reviewing and shortlisting counsellor profiles can help you gauge whether they are a good fit before booking a session.  

If you are struggling to find the right counsellor, please try therapy with a second or third counsellor. Give yourself a few options and time for therapy to work.  

If you need further assistance in choosing a counsellor, reach out to us at [email protected] 

What Help Looks Like

Different types of depression symptoms may require different treatment.  

Therapy can help treat mild symptoms of depression by: 

  • Providing information about mild depression and helping clients identify their symptoms 
  • Teaching therapeutic skills to change their lifestyle and thought processes 
  • Providing tools to cope with any future issues, such as situational mood swings or uncontrollable emotions 

Therapists may use a combination of approaches (ie eclectic approach) to treat moderate to severe depression.  

Common interventions used during counselling include: 

If you are looking to start your journey towards healing from depression, consider booking a session with one of our counsellors in Singapore 

Depression may first start as sadness. When we feel sad, we may shut down and find ourselves unable to cope with issues. Eventually, we may just feel numb and empty.  

We may all feel low, frustrated, or fed up at times. These feelings often occur due to a particular situation in life and may pass on their own.  

After all, feelings and thoughts are often fleeting, aren’t they?  

But if your feelings become so bad that they significantly affect your lifestyle, it might be depression. It can get hard to live with depression, especially if it lasts for several weeks or months.  

In this article, we address if depression is a mental illness, types of depression, and ways you can seek support if you have the condition.  

Is Depression a Mental Illness?

‘Is depression a mental illness?’ is a question you may have, especially if you feel alone in your experience.  

In Malaysia alone, nearly 18.6% of people have moderate to extremely severe depression. Hence, know that you are not alone, and help is available.  

Depression is considered a mental illness, and the condition may get severe without the right social and mental health support.  

Common symptoms of depression include: 

  • Feelings of sadness and loss 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Self-loathing  
  • Loss of self-esteem 
  • Mood swings or lack of concentration 
  • Brain fog (eg forgetfulness or lack of mental clarity) 

Symptoms of depression manifest in people in different ways. For example, some may struggle with lower productivity or procrastination, while others may deal with relationship misunderstandings and conflicts. 

Depression can trigger the symptoms of other related mental and physical health conditions, such as: 

Person with arthritis struggling with depression

Depression Is Different from Sadness

Being sad is often not the same as having depression.  

It is normal for sadness to develop in situations such as heartbreak, arguments, or job loss.  

However, what differentiates sadness from depression is the duration and influence of symptoms in daily life.  

In sadness, the feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories or hints of hope and desire.  

In depression, the general desire in life and mood are affected for a minimum of two weeks. People with depression also feel worthless and hopeless.  

More precisely, not everyone who is sad has depression.  

How Is Depression Treated?

Depression can be treated through a holistic plan that includes medication, psychotherapy, and self-care strategies.  

However, medication is optional. Whether it works for you depends on your medical history, co-existing conditions, doctor’s recommendation, and preference. 

Everyone can follow self-care strategies, regardless of the type of treatment plan.  

1. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, has been found effective in treating many types of mood disorders.  

A therapy session may involve either one or multiple individuals. For example, only one person may talk to a therapist during individual counselling. However, partners can attend sessions together during couples therapy.  

At TYHO, counsellors may use interventions such as: 

What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Hence, to develop a personalised therapeutic plan, you may have an open discussion with your Therapist about the topics below: 

  • Your preferences 
  • Presenting problems 
  • Therapy goals 
  • Past and current relationships 
  • Personality type 
  • Cultural and worldview 

Your psychotherapist may use one or multiple interventions (ie eclectic approach) to help you overcome depression. 

2. Self-Care Strategies

There are several evidence-based self-care strategies that you can follow to reduce the symptoms of depression.  

For many, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a positive mindset can improve mood. However, others may need more specific strategies to overcome painful symptoms. 

Some tools may not be possible to use now or may not be very helpful. Hence, try a few different techniques to see what helps you the best. 

Below are some general self-care tips you can follow to get started: 

  • Open up to someone you trust  
  • Try joining peer support groups 
  • Try mindfulness or meditation for 5 minutes every morning 
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings every night 
  • Spend quality time in nature  
  • Keep a dairy and track your mood to observe what tools work for you 
  • Give more importance to your hobbies and try finding something you love doing 

Depression is a mental illness, and living with one can be a hard experience.  

Remember that you can manage depression with the right and quality mental health care. Reach out to us today to address and overcome symptoms of depression.  

Willpower can help you meet your goals

Having occasional anxiety due to a specific situation is part of regular life.  

However, if you have anxiety syndrome, you can manage your symptoms through effective skills and long-term strategies.  

Anxiety is our body’s response to fear and a way to urge us to safety. Hence, this feeling can be very useful in identifying danger or threat.  

Most people may also use the term ‘anxiety syndrome’ to refer to stress, worry, overthinking, or nervousness.  

However, there’s a clear difference between being anxious and having anxiety syndrome, the latter of which may include severe and crippling symptoms. 

In this article, we share 4 skills to help you cope with anxiety and 5 long-term strategies to address and treat the condition.  

What Is an Anxiety Syndrome

An anxiety syndrome, or an anxiety disorder, is a psychological condition characterised by excessive fear, panic, worry, and dread.  

Other symptoms could include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shivers or chills, restlessness, poor concentration, lack of decision-making skills, trouble breathing, and a pounding headache.  

If left untreated, the signs can worsen over time and affect a person’s day-to-day functioning, relationships, and work/academic performance.  

An anxiety syndrome can be caused by a medical problem such as thyroid, a history of trauma or abuse, certain medications, or other social and environmental factors.  

Anxiety is usually disproportionate to the situation. For example, a situation like taking an exam is not inherently dangerous to students.  

However, students with anxiety syndrome may panic before the exam and think that they may fail the test.  

The condition is also associated with avoidance behaviour, where a person may avoid situations or people due to their fears.  

The different types of anxiety syndrome include generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, post-trauma stress, and phobias.  

A person struggling to cope with anxiety syndrome

Common Symptoms of an Anxiety Syndrome

Symptoms of anxiety syndrome can affect your daily activities and routine. Hence, it is important to identify the signs and seek professional therapy to prevent the condition from worsening. 

You should consider seeking therapy if you notice that your anxiety is affecting your relationships (eg doubting if your partner truly loves you), family bonds (eg feeling like your mom hates you for no reason), and work life.  

Your counsellor in Singapore can help you analyse what type of anxiety disorder you may have and how to best manage it.  

Some common symptoms of an anxiety syndrome may include: 

  • Feeling nervous and dread 
  • Feeling helpless  
  • Constantly anticipating danger or doom, even when things are okay 
  • Hyperventilation 
  • Preoccupation with your anxiety 
  • Feelings of guilt and shame 
  • Thoughts of death or self-harm 

4 Essential Skills to Cope With an Anxiety Syndrome

If your anxiety syndrome gets in the way of your healthy routines, life, and relationships – you may want to learn certain skills to manage and control the symptoms.  

Sometimes, anxiety can occur due to specific situations, like fear of presenting your project in front of your colleagues. During such times, you may notice that the symptoms are short-lived and disappear after the event is over.  

Hence, by learning these 4 essential skills, you can not only manage your symptoms but also prevent them from occurring in the first place.  

1. Observe Your Thought Patterns

Your anxiety usually stems from unhelpful thoughts you may have regarding yourself and the world. 

For example, a person with anxiety syndrome may believe that they are not good enough or not good at anything.  

These negative thoughts directly influence their behaviours during important performances, where they may undermine their ability.  

One way to observe your thought patterns is to challenge yourself to face your fears, fact-check yourself, and see how you can regain control of your emotions.  

If we consider the above example, the person may not have any real facts about their future performance. Their thoughts are based on their assumptions about their capabilities.  

Hence, if you are stuck in a similar situation, you can ask yourself if your thoughts and beliefs are true.  

If it’s true, how can you get the proof? What does your previous performance say about your abilities? Reflecting on these questions can help you face reality for what it truly is, and eventually, you may begin to get rid of your negative thoughts.  

2. Learn Correct Breathing Techniques

Person engaging in breathing exercises to control anxiety syndrome

A common symptom of anxiety syndrome is hyperventilation, where you may struggle to breathe and relax your body.  

Hyperventilation may increase your oxygen levels and reduce the carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. Carbon dioxide is the chemical that helps regulate the body’s reaction to anxiety.  

By learning the right breathing skills, you can correct your body’s chemical imbalance and regulate your emotions.  

To do so, try breathing from your diaphragm rather than the chest to reduce hyperventilation. This method allows your belly to expand as you breathe in.  

To check if you are breathing correctly, place one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest.  

Observe your body to see where the maximum movement occurs. If your abdomen moves, you are doing the correct breathing technique. 

If you are having an anxiety attack, you may also want to slow down your breathing.  

As it can be hard to be mindful of our breath during anxiety, try to touch an ice cube or place half a slice of lemon in your mouth to jerk you out of the anxiety episode. 

Learning the correct techniques can help boost carbon dioxide levels in the blood. If you are hesitant to try alone, you can book a session with a Singaporean psychotherapist specialising in mindfulness and ACT 

3. Try Aromatherapy

For some people, aromatherapy can be extremely useful in reducing the symptoms of anxiety syndrome.  

As the research on aromatherapy is limited, we suggest not to use it as a primary intervention or technique.  

However, aromatherapy, along with other skills and coping strategies, can help you improve your overall state of mind.  

Aromatherapy could include essential oil forms, incense, or a scented candle.  

You can try flavours such as lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood, which are known to reduce stress and promote relaxation.  

4. Exercise

Although exercise alone may not completely control the symptoms, it can play an important role in reducing your anxiety in the long term.  

For people with anxiety syndrome, movement becomes very important. Every time you move, your body finds it easier to release the happy chemicals.  

Exercise in any form can burn up stress chemicals and manage your emotions.  

If you are not fond of cardio or strength training, you can take a long walk daily and try dancing, yoga, or other movement-based activities.  

People exercising in the gym to reduce anxiety syndrome symptoms

5 Long-Term Strategies to Deal with an Anxiety Syndrome

If your anxiety syndrome is unmanageable with the tools above, you may want to consider other long-term strategies. 

1. Try Professional Counselling

If you are unsure how to manage your anxiety, Singaporean counsellors can help you: 

  • Better understand your emotions 
  • Identify and address your triggers 
  • Manage and control your feelings 
  • Learn therapeutic skills to deal with anxiety syndrome 
  • Learn effective coping mechanisms 

For example, counsellors may use cognitive behavioural therapy to help you learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-prone situations.  

Research also shows that CBT is an effective intervention to treat most types of anxiety disorders.  

2. Identify and Manage Your Triggers

Similar to observing your thought patterns, learning how to identify and manage your triggers can help you prevent an anxiety attack.  

In most cases, you may need professional guidance from a Therapist to identify your triggers. Some triggers may be obvious, such as exams, presentations, and meeting a stranger.  

However, most triggers may be subtle and indirect. As we are entirely consumed in our anxiety, it can be difficult to analyse how we were triggered. 

For example, a person who had a negative childhood experience such as bullying may feel anxious in social situations or when they’re with their friends.  

This person may not consider their current situation as triggering because they’re with their friends and may consider the environment safe.  

However, a Therapist can help connect the dots between bullying in childhood and having an anxiety attack in a room full of friends.  

Below are some common triggers people with an anxiety syndrome may have: 

  • Work, relationships, or financial stressors 
  • Withdrawal from addiction 
  • Chronic pain 
  • Past trauma 

3. Build a Community

Although everyone is different, and not all your loved ones may understand your condition, building a safe community for yourself can help you in more than one way.  

Socialising can reduce stress, encourage feelings of hope and joy, and decrease isolation and loneliness. 

Even if your friends may not know how to handle the situation, having someone to talk to and seeking their support can be a huge help.  

Research has also shown that being part of a community can help you become mentally resilient to distress in the long run.  

4. Create a Nourishing Morning Routine

Many people with anxiety syndrome may struggle with their mornings, which usually tends to set the tone for the day.  

For example, imagine the difference between waking up at noon and waking up at 9 or 10 a.m. At the former time, you may feel unmotivated and upset about your day.  

However, with the latter, you may have enough time to take care of yourself and engage in self-care habits to start your day positively.  

Morning routines can create a sense of normalcy and control. As you begin to follow the routine every day, you will gain a newfound sense of control over your emotions and habits.  

Waking up at the right time (whatever that time may be for you) and journalling or doing an activity that brings you joy can leave you feeling energised. 

The energy you have in the morning can last throughout the day and help you recharge better every night.  

However, it is important to remember that not every morning will be the same. Sometimes, we may just need to get that extra sleep or roll around in bed for a few hours.  

Remember to take it easy. The only goal to focus on would be to engage in your routine as much as possible, even if it’s not 100%.  

5. Consider Medications

For some people, a combination of medications and therapy may work the best in treating anxiety syndrome.  

Medications are usually short-term and supportive care; hence, your doctor may not use them as a primary intervention.  

Taking meds can help control and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety syndrome.  

Your doctor may provide tranquillisers or antidepressants to help you cope. You may start these medications on a lower dosage and may adjust the dosage and frequency depending on your progress and outcome.  

Remember that medication is optional and may not work for everyone. To understand what kind of therapeutic plan works best for you, try having an open conversation with your Therapist.  

Your Therapist is the right professional to create a personalised treatment plan for you! 


Socialising can reduce stress, encourage feelings of hope and joy, and decrease isolation and loneliness. 

Even if your friends may not know how to handle the situation, having someone to talk to and seeking their support can be a huge help.  

Research has also shown that being part of a community can help you become mentally resilient to distress in the long run.  


Socialising can reduce stress, encourage feelings of hope and joy, and decrease isolation and loneliness. 

Even if your friends may not know how to handle the situation, having someone to talk to and seeking their support can be a huge help.  

Research has also shown that being part of a community can help you become mentally resilient to distress in the long run.  

If you are here to find a therapist in KL for yourself or your loved ones, you are taking the right step.  

We may all experience distress in our lives. Sometimes, it is easier to overcome or find solutions independently. Other times, we may be lost and not know how to move on from the issue.  

This is true, especially for people who struggle with negative thought patterns. How do you cope with a crisis if you struggle to think from a fresh perspective? What sort of advice can you seek if you are indecisive in the first place? How do you ask for help if you find it hard to make friends? 

Above are some questions that may put us in a tight spot. This is where therapists in KL can help you.  

A therapist is a professional who may provide you with strategic tools to understand and manage your issues. However, how do you find someone who truly understands you?  

Read through our 4 simple and easy steps to choose the right Therapist in KL. 

Finding a Therapist in Kuala Lumpur

At Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO), we help you find a therapist near you, contact Therapists in KL to find the right match, and provide you with the qualifications and necessary credentials of our team.  

We only work with Therapists who align with TYHO values. Our values include empathy, non-judgment, and sensitivity to diverse cultures and backgrounds.  

Hence, regardless of where you come from or who you are, you will receive the same high-quality support from our professionals.  

We have a team of Therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and counsellors. Although we use the term ‘Therapists’ to refer to all kinds of mental health professionals, some minor differences exist in their clinical work.  

On the one hand, if you need help with issues such as feeling sad for no reason, low self-esteem, distorted body image, or mood swings, counsellors in Malaysia can help you.  

On the other hand, if you want to get diagnosed or need help managing a condition like social anxiety, TYHO psychologists in Malaysia can provide the support you need.  

Visit our database of articles to gain in-depth information about our services. Therapists in KL offer support for individuals, couples, marriages, and families.  

The information we share will also help you look for Therapists who speak multiple languages, come from diverse backgrounds, and specialise in particular issues.  

Some of the common issues you can seek help for include: 

Person using a tab to find a therapist in KL

4 Tips To Find the Right Therapist in KL

Ongoing research has found that the bond between you and your Therapist in KL will likely significantly impact your growth and progress. 

That’s why it’s important to follow these simple steps to choose a therapist who fits you best.  

You can find the right Therapist by identifying your therapy goals, reviewing profiles, asking questions, and, most importantly, trusting yourself and how you feel during the process. 

Follow along for some tips we share to make this process easy for you.  

1. Define Your Goals

Why do you need therapy? What do you hope to address or achieve during and after your therapy sessions? Do you want to attend therapy alone? How healthy are your relationships?  

Define your goals for seeking therapy. Above are some questions you can consider asking yourself to truly understand your unique needs.  

What you can do on an individual level is write down all the information about yourself that you think will help during goal setting.  

For example, you can write about the issues you face and how frequently they occur or how they affect your life.  

Remember that goal setting is a collaborative process between you and your Therapist in KL. Hence, rest assured that your Therapist will work with you to identify and define goals.  

Client writing therapy goals to find a therapist in KL

2. Review Therapist Profiles

At TYHO, you can review each Therapist by visiting their full profile.  

You will find information about their experience, background, and expertise here. It is important to carefully review all the details and shortlist professionals you think can best help you.  

Watch each Therapist’s introductory videos to understand who they are as a person and what conversation style they may bring during therapy sessions.  

You can also book an initial session with a Therapist to gauge the fit and ask them questions about therapy.  

3. Ask Questions

This leads us to the most important step in finding a Therapist in KL: asking important questions.  

There are no right or wrong questions or topics to discuss with your Therapist. Try to get comfortable and ask them anything that may be causing you distress or confusion.  

TYHO Therapists will be happy to address your doubts about therapy. Hence, you can ask a broad range of questions to check how you feel about interacting with the Therapist and if you would like to continue therapy with them.  

Your questions could include doubts about the therapy process, therapeutic approaches, the Therapist’s expertise and skills, therapy outcomes, and so on.  

4. Trust Your Gut

Lastly, and most importantly, trust your guts during the process. How do you feel after the first session? Are you comfortable? Did you feel seen and validated? 

Remember that it may take some time to open up and build rapport with your Therapist. Hence, you may want to keep track of your feelings in a notebook and analyse how you feel for a few sessions.  

A good Therapist will encourage you to open up at your own pace and make you feel safe and comfortable during the conversation.  

After a few sessions, if you feel like the fit isn’t quite right, feel free to book a session with a different Therapist in KL.  

Finding the right expert may take some time. Don’t give up. This lengthy process can help you gain the best and most effective therapy outcomes. 


Seeking therapy has become more common and acceptable throughout the world. 

How did this change happen?  

As more professionals come forward to spread awareness about mental health, more people learn what therapy means. Awareness can help people cast aside misconceptions about mental health and therapy. 

Many may experience some type of distress, such as mood swings or anxiety, either once or several times throughout their life.  

Hence, by learning the meaning of therapists and how they can help – people may be encouraged to explore the possibility of recovery through therapy.  

Therapy can help with daily issues like low confidence, mood swings, and irritability, and disorders such as depression and social anxiety 

Keep reading to learn about what therapy means, how it works, and how to find a therapist. 

Meaning of Therapists

According to the American Psychological Association, the meaning of therapist is “an individual who has been trained in and practices one or more types of therapy to treat mental or physical disorders or diseases.” 

A Malaysian Therapist is an authentic, unbiased, and empathic professional who can provide objective guidance to help clients make choices that best serve their interests.  

During therapy, professionals may help their clients find their strengths and courage to face difficulties so they can learn and become their authentic selves in life.  

Every session conducted may make a person feel: 

  • Validated 
  • Acknowledged 
  • Accountable 
  • Safe 
  • Strong and confident 
  • Relived 

If you seek help from a Therapist, you may gain a shift in perspective regarding yourself, your experiences, life, and the world. 

This perspective shift can help you make the right choices that may lead you towards a happy and content life.  

What Does a Therapist Do?

Malaysian Therapists at TYHO work with clients online and in person.  

In the initial few sessions, say 3-4 meet-ups, your Therapist may conduct clinical interviews to get to know you better.  

The interview may consist of questions to better understand your: 

  • Childhood history 
  • Medical history 
  • Family history 
  • Past and current relationships 
  • Personality type 
  • Communication styles 
  • Issues and symptoms 

After the analysis, the therapist may also observe clinically to identify harmful patterns you may not notice.  

Based on all the information you provide and the inferences they make, your therapist may help diagnose any mental health conditions and help reduce symptoms of your distress. 

The expert may use either one or multiple therapeutic approaches (ie eclectic approach) to effectively resolve emotional or psychological issues.  

Moreover, in general, Therapists can help you: 

  • Learn communication skills 
  • Learn tools to manage emotions 
  • Overcome or cope with crises such as abuse, suicidal thoughts or trauma 
  • Improve relationships with your friends or partner 
  • Cultivate self-compassion and self-care  
  • Learn more about yourself and accept yourself 
  • Reduce internal shame or stigma related to your mental health 

Through short-term or long-term therapy, the therapist aims to make you self-reliant. Once you become self-reliant, you will begin to overcome problems independently even long after therapy ends.  

One of the meaning of therapists is to help clients become self-reliant.

Misconceptions About Therapists

To really understand the meaning of a therapist is to talk about what a therapist is not.  

Below are some common misconceptions about therapists: 

1. Therapists are like friends but with payment

Therapists do not offer advice, which is not the same as talking to friends. A professional therapist has extensive qualifications and experience to understand and improve their client’s mental health.  

While a friend can give advice, a therapist identifies all the negative patterns in your speech, thoughts, and behaviours that may be contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle.  

Most therapists also have around six years of education besides specialised training and certifications.  

2. Therapists make decisions for you

Most therapists will not tell you what to do or which decision to make, and they will not give instructions about their opinion on a particular decision.  

Therapists work with their clients objectively and teach them the necessary skills to live better lives and make better choices.  

Rather than depending on a therapist to make decisions, you will become self-reliant through consistent therapy and learn to depend on yourself to solve life issues.  

3. Therapists can read your mind

This is one of the most widespread misconceptions about the meaning of therapists.  

Therapists are humans and cannot get inside your head or point out what exactly you are thinking.  

During psychotherapy, you may share a lot about your thoughts and feelings. The information you provide may give the therapist clear insight into your thinking patterns and how they are affecting your life.  

A therapist during a psychotherapy session explaining what therapy means

How to Find a Therapist

It is important to take your time to find the right therapist.  

Therapists at TYHO are all empathetic and open-minded. We urge you to visit each Therapist’s profile and read about the information provided there.  

You can learn more about the Therapist’s: 

  • Qualifications 
  • Expertise 
  • Background 
  • Therapeutic approaches 
  • Languages they speak 

Moreover, watch their short videos to better understand who they are and the style they may use during therapy sessions.  

Book a session with a Therapist after you find someone to help with your issues.  

If you find the Therapist not the right match, please feel free to look for a different professional. 

It may take some time to find the right Therapist, but staying positive and patient during this search can create a strong foundation for your journey towards healing! 

Approximately 1 in 3 Malaysians suffer from some type of mental health disorder. 

Unfortunately, half of these people have not been diagnosed. Many hesitate to seek professional support due to stigma, shame, and lack of awareness.  

Despite the risk of neglecting mental health, the stigma of counselling is still widespread in many cultures and nations, including Malaysia.   

Due to this, mental health in Malaysia requires active support and awareness.  

We will look into how common mental health illnesses are in Malaysia, some early signs of disorders, and where to seek help.  

Mental health in Malaysia

The 2015 NHMS (National Health and Morbidity Survey) showed that nearly 29.2% of Malaysians are struggling with mental health issues.  

The same survey showed that teenagers aged 16-19 and people from lower-income families were the most vulnerable among those affected.  

Mental health issues in Malaysia have increased ever since and occur due to multiple causes.  

Some of the common causes are financial issues, unemployment, workplace stress and burnout, family conflicts, and loneliness. 

Moreover, the lack of social support and awareness of healthy coping tools can act as risk factors for developing conditions such as: 

Addressing mental health in Malaysia requires a multifaceted approach.  

At a societal level, we could host awareness campaigns, improve access to mental health services, and create a supportive and inclusive community.  

On an individual level, however, we could prioritise our own and our family’s well-being. Seeking support and clarifying mental health myths can be a great way to normalise mental health issues.  

Mental health in Malaysia can be improved by addressing work-related stress.

How Common Are Mental Health Illnesses?

Mental health issues in Malaysia are quite common.  

In fact, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 1 in 9 people globally experience a mental health issue at some point.  

Some of the common issues include clinical depression, different types of anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and stress disorders.  

In Malaysia, nearly 1 in 5 will experience emotional distress at some point in their lives. Similarly, another study pointed out that around 10% of Malaysians (16 years old and above) have depression. Stress was also observed to be higher among youth aged 16-29. 

It is also important to note that the statistics are only estimates conducted by valid organisations. However, the numbers may be much higher since many people may be unwilling to seek help or open up about their issues.  

This also shows that we are not alone in our journey of struggles. Everyone may have emotional distress at some point and can find the right help and support through counselling in Malaysia 

Early Signs of Mental Health Disorders

Identifying the early signs of emotional distress can prevent and reduce the negative effects in daily life.  

The early signs of psychological issues are:

  • Drastic and sudden changes in mood or behaviour 
  • Irregular or disturbed sleep schedule 
  • Disordered eating (eg anorexia nervosa) 
  • Lack of attention, focus, or concentration 
  • Poor performance at school or work 
  • Uninterested in social activities like hanging out with friends  
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and daily activities like cooking 
  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness 
  • Physical signs like headaches, muscle pain and tension 

If you or someone you know shows the signs above, counselling can help.  

Remember that you may show signs that are not present in the above list. Similarly, you may experience signs that are less common or less obvious to yourself and others.  

For example, while some people may look happy and healthy on the outside, they may unconsciously hurt themselves physically or mentally to cope with the problem. Self-harm in any way can be hard to notice.  

Hence, if you would like more clarity on your feelings or are feeling uncomfortable about something, a professional Therapist can help.  

There is no ‘right’ reason to seek help. Even if you are currently happy, you may benefit from counselling in other ways, such as:  

  • Becoming more confident 
  • Gaining clarity on your career 
  • Improving your habits 
  • Making more friends 

Where to Seek Help for Mental Health in Malaysia?

At Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO), you can seek help for mental health in Malaysia.  

The list below is non-exhaustive. Your counsellor can help you with any issue you may have, even if it’s not present in this section.  

In general, you can expect to receive help for: 

To find someone to help with your problem, visit every counsellor’s full profile. Here, you can read about the academic background and clinical expertise.  

Book an initial session with a counsellor to gauge the fit. If you feel comfortable, you can openly start discussing your problems.  

However, if you don’t feel comfortable or feel like the match is not quite right – you can look for someone else.  

Finding the right therapist may take some time. However, this step is essential to gain the most benefits of therapy in Malaysia.  

Remember, you are not alone, and support is always here! 


The depression anxiety and stress scale, known as DASS, is an assessment to identify symptoms of mental health disorders.  

A qualified professional, such as a Malaysian counsellor or psychologist, carries out the test.  

You may receive a comprehensive explanation of your mental wellness based on the DASS results, interpretations, and clinical impressions of your counsellor.  

Read about the components of the depression anxiety stress scale, symptoms of the issues, and DASS diagnosis.  

Depression Anxiety Stress Scale

The DASS is a tool used to assess the intensity of depression, anxiety, and stress that you may be facing.  

The DASS scale is designed to identify, understand, and accurately measure these feelings. It is used for research purposes and by clinicians to diagnose mental disorders. 

The depression anxiety stress scale has three parts, with 14 questions each. Each part assesses different types of symptoms. 

Part 1: The depression section identifies feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and losing interest in activities previously enjoyed.  

Part 2: The anxiety section identifies signs of fear, overthinking, panic, and feelings of worry.  

Part 3: The stress section measures how stressed or emotional a person is, their mood swings, and the impact of stress on daily life.   

You may be asked to answer the questions based on how you have felt in the past week. Your psychologist may advise you to use a scale of 0 to 3. 0 indicates no distress, and 3 indicates severe distress. 

The shorter version of the DASS is the DASS21, which only has 7 questions in each section.  

The DASS, previously known as the self-analysis questionnaire (SAQ), is reliable and helpful in measuring mental wellness. 

Components of the Scale

The three components of the scale are as follows: 

  1. Depression scale: Measures aspects such as dysphoria (ie dissatisfaction in life), hopelessness, feeling sad for no reason, anhedonia (ie inability to feel joy), and inertia.  
  2. Anxiety scale: Measures hyperarousal, panic, freeze or flight modes, impacts on skeletal muscle, situational anxiety, subjective experience of anxiety, and identifies signs of any other anxiety disorder 
  3. Stress scale: Measures signs such as difficulty relaxing, burnout, mental exhaustion due to overwork (either in the workplace or personal life), feelings of anger and irritability, impulsiveness, and levels of impatience.  
depression anxiety stress scale

Symptoms of Stress, Anxiety & Depression

The depression anxiety stress scale can help you identify several different symptoms.  

The symptoms of all three disorders can manifest through physical, emotional, and psychological signs.  

For example, sleep is commonly affected if you have stress, anxiety, or depression. Similarly, your mood and control over your emotions may also be affected. 

Some signs, however, are specific to each disorder. Depression could indicate low moods, whereas anxiety could indicate constant mood swings or feeling erratic.  

Note that the symptoms may be different for everyone. Hence, it is important to have an open discussion with your depression counsellor to identify how the symptoms manifest in your life specifically.  

Common signs of stress are: 

  • Headaches and chronic muscle pain  
  • Feeling exhausted and tired 
  • Getting annoyed, upset, or angry easily 
  • Troubles with sleeping too much or not enough 

Symptoms of anxiety include: 

  • Fast heart rate 
  • Sweating and shaking 
  • Feeling worried or emotional all the time 
  • Having gastrointestinal and digestive issues 
  • Negative thought patterns 

Symptoms of depression include: 

  • Lack of joy or enjoyment in life 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Low moods 
  • Feeling bad and underconfident about oneself 
  • Lack of decision-making skills 
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide 

The DASS and Diagnosis

The depression anxiety stress scale helps differentiate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.  

Although some of the symptoms may appear similar, the core cause, manifestation of signs, and impact on daily life may be quite different.  

For example, on the one hand, people with social anxiety may struggle to make friends and have a fear social interactions and situations.  

On the other hand, people with depression may interact comfortably but may struggle with isolation, fatigue, and sadness.  

Hence, when a professional administers the DASS tool, they can assess the intensity of the emotional distress and offer an effective treatment plan to overcome the issue.  

The scale does not consider several factors. This is where your Malaysian Therapist can help you.  

After assessing your results, your Therapist may look into several other factors contributing to your distress. These factors include: 

  • Your childhood history 
  • Medical history 
  • Interpersonal relationships 
  • Family history 
  • Personality type 
  • Attachment styles 
  • Thought process 
  • Beliefs 
  • Cultural upbringing 

After completely interpreting the results, you may receive a comprehensive insight into your mental health and the steps you can take to improve your wellness.  

The DASS provides a dimensional insight into psychological disorders. In other words, the difference in emotional experiences is seen as a difference in the intensity rather than segregating it into a distinct category of disorders.  

Consequently, while the DASS provides valuable data on the severity of symptoms, it does not directly inform discrete diagnostic categorisations like those found in the DSM or ICD.  

Nonetheless, you can gain more clarity about yourself with the help of a professional.  

If you want to get diagnosed or simply wish to improve your quality of life, TYHO Malaysian counsellors can help you.  

According to recent community surveys, around 20% of Malaysians in primary care complain of depression and anxiety symptoms.  

A person’s mental fitness (ie how well they handle problems) could determine how they think, act, and feel. 

A mental disorder may be present when a person experiences negative or unhelpful thought patterns that may eventually lead to harmful behaviours.  

However, not everyone who suffers from emotional distress may have a disorder.  

Psychological distress could affect various aspects of life, such as: 

  • Interactions in social settings 
  • Performance at work or school 
  • Learning capabilities expected for one’s age  
  • Interpersonal relationships 
  • Self-image and worth 

Factors such as cultural and family expectations may also contribute to developing a mental health condition such as social anxiety or depression.  

Read about the different types of mental health services in Malaysia that can help you overcome long-term conditions and issues in daily life.  

Mental Health Services in Malaysia

Getting professional help can be challenging if you are confused about what problem you are facing and which professional to approach.  

For example, if you struggle to control your anger, it may affect your peace of mind and your romantic relationship. Should you then seek individual counselling or couples counselling 

As for the above example, you can initially consult a Malaysian counsellor to understand and control your anger.  

If you cannot control anger only in your relationship, a couples counsellor can help you better. 

If you are confused about the type of service, you can reach out to us or browse through all TYHO Therapist profiles to find out what the professional can help with. 

We have pulled together basic information in this section about the different types of services you can seek in Malaysia. 

Individual Counselling

Client attending online mental health services in Malaysia

Individual counselling, or psychotherapy, is a process through which you may engage in a structured conversation to assess, explore, understand, and maintain your mental health.  

Your Therapist will provide you with a safe and non-judgmental environment, where they will also avoid clouding or influencing your thoughts.  

You may be encouraged to share extensive details about your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and habits during this time.  

You may work through negative or challenging memories, set personal goals, and cope with issues such as: 

  • Low self-esteem 
  • Social anxiety 
  • Depression or mood swings 
  • Relationship issues  
  • Lack of self-awareness 
  • Lack of clarity in life 
  • ADHD 
  • Poor self-image 
  • Addictions 

Couples and Marriage Counselling

Couple attending mental health services in Malaysia

Couples and marriage counselling are services that help you improve your relationship with your partner, solve issues that may be contributing to distress, and better understand each other to prevent future conflicts.  

During sessions, you and your partner may learn several essential skills, such as: 

  • Decision making 
  • Communication skills 
  • Interaction skills (eg body language, active listening) 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Critical and objective thinking 

These skills can help you view your problem from a fresh perspective and manage your emotions during any arguments.  

Your couples counsellor will avoid taking sides and view your relationship or marriage as the ‘client’. Both of you, along with the professional, will work together to address the ‘client’.  

During couples and marriage counselling, you can solve issues such as: 

  • Financial disagreements 
  • Lack of mutual trust or loyalty in a relationship 
  • Communication issues 
  • Infidelity 
  • Differences in opinions or beliefs 
  • Inferiority complex 
  • Frequent arguments  
  • Hurting or blaming each other  

Family Counselling

Family counselling, or family therapy, is a type of mental health service in Malaysia that can help you improve relationships and affection with your family members and meet your unique emotional needs in the family.  

You can expect to solve issues from various life factors, such as emotional, psychological, developmental, spiritual etc.  

Every family member is unique and may have different personalities. However, a person’s thought process and behaviours may affect everyone else in the family.  

Hence, it becomes important to understand each other and change how we interact to ensure everyone feels valued and loved.  

You can attend family therapy sessions with all family members, with parents, or individually. Your Therapist may advise you on the structure and duration of therapy you may need to overcome any issues.  

Problems you can overcome through family counselling include: 

  • Communication issues 
  • Lack of honesty 
  • Relationship conflicts, such as between siblings or parents 
  • Dealing with grief or separation 

Child Counselling

Child attending mental health services in Malaysia

Children often find it hard to articulate their emotions and thoughts. Since they may either repress their feelings or express them in ways adults may not understand (eg by drawing or throwing a ‘tantrum’), it becomes important for children to seek professional help if they are struggling.  

A child psychologist may use age-appropriate approaches such as art therapy or play therapy to help children understand and express their feelings.  

While talking to a child about emotional distress, it is important to not trigger them further and avoid conversations that may make them feel more uncomfortable.  

This is where Therapists can help. Through tools such as motivational interviewing, a professional can understand and solve issues such as: 

  • Negative thought patterns 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Negative emotions developed due to bullying or discrimination 
  • Loneliness 
  • Minimal or no social skills 
  • Attention and concentration 
  • Mood swings and impulsiveness 

Contact TYHO Therapists in Malaysia if you or your loved ones need help. Early prevention and intervention could reduce the impact of trauma or distress in the long run!