Depression – "The Silent Assassin"

The world feels like a murkier place; hopelessness, isolation and suicide are the only words left, Why me? is the only question and black and white are the only colors sensed. Your walking through life and you feel you want to cry, but you don’t know why. The basic needs have become a burden and all you’re hoping for is “when will all of this end.”

It gets to the point where you feel you’re too much of a burden. Well the truth is that depression will affect YOU at some stage in your life… no one is immune.

As a medical student, I find it sad that even within the community of physicians and mental health professionals, we often fail to recognise the condition or provide accurate treatment. Despite the increasing cases of depression disorder, little is known about it in our society.

Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness, hopeless or helplessness, having low self-esteem, feeling inadequate excessive guilt, loss of interest in daily activities, difficult with relationships, sleep disturbances, change in appetite, weight loss, difficult in concentration, inability to make decisions and worst of all suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Did you know that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men?

Depression can be due to many factors and it has been classified in different approaches;

a) Genetics – In which risk of mood disorders is increased in first degree relatives.

b) Childhood experiences – (early environment) this involves parental deprivation as well as poor relationships with parents. Psychoanalysts have suggested that childhood deprivation of maternal affection through separation or loss predispose to depressive disorders.

On the contrary there is more support for the proposal that depressive disorders in the later teenage life is associated with parental separation particularly DIVORCE!

Physical or sexual abuse is a risk factor for major depression and this leads to gross disruption of prenatal child relationship

c) Current life difficulties and stress – can provoke mood disorders in predisposed individuals

d) Social economic status is also another factor.

What can we do?

The role of the community in the prevention and care of the depressed has now been widely acknowledged and in the future may be regarded as the most appropriate for the basis of mental health programs.

Several studies have shown that knowledge of public attitude to depression and its treatment is vitally important prerequisite to the realization of a successful community! The recognition of depression also depends on a careful evaluation of the norms, beliefs and customs within the individual’s cultural environment. Community attitude and beliefs play an important role in determining help seeking behavior and successful treatment of the depressed.

Since depression is associated with loneliness; emotional support, socialization, consultation and most importantly self-realization can help reduce the number of cases in the community.

Every 30 seconds somewhere someone commits suicide because of depression! It may be two blocks away, two countries away but it happens every day.

Teenagers are the most venerable to depression. This is because of the different stressors they are going through and the change into adolescence. It’s difficult to diagnose teenagers with depression, as they tend to hide it and confine it to themselves due to the fear of social stigma.

Without seeking care and treatment the consequence of depression are suffered by both individual and the society as a whole. It can lead to unemployment, drug abuse, homelessness, and suicide!

To all of you out there experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms no matter how bad it is… there is a better day waiting!