Mental health has assumed an importance equal to physical health, and everybody should be watchful for signs that somebody in the family could be susceptible to depression that might, if not given professional medical attention, lead to suicide.
This was emphasized by Dr. Daisy Chua-Daquilanea, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Western Visayas Medical Center in Mandurrialo, Iloio City, in an interview on my radio program, “Maayong Gab-i, Iloilo” on Wednesday, June 27.
Dr. Daquilanea said depression has reached alarming levels all over the world, and the celebrity suicides earlier this month — Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain — has made it important that we gain a better understanding of what triggers his mental health condition.
“It’s normal to feel sadness, as when somebody close to us dies, or we are separated from family members due to work,” Dr. Daquilanea said. “But there are those who are unable to cope with sadness or loneliness even after a lapse of time, and depression starts to set in.”
Usually, mild depression begins to manifest after two weeks or more, and an individual starts to exhibit irritation, quick temper and has trouble in his or her relationships in the home or at work, she said.
There are three stages in depression: mild, moderate and severe.
In many cases, mild and even moderate depression are just ignored, and this is the reason why people reach the point when they feel suicide is the only way to end their suffering, she said.
Dr. Daquilanea advised family members to bring anybody in the family who manifests symptoms of depression to a psychiatrist. Depression is a treatable condition, and the earlier it is given professional care and treatment, the better.
She lamented that one reason most families don’t bring somebody in their home to a psychiatrist is the fear that the patient will be labelled as crazy or “buang”.
But it’s not just those who are suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia who need professional psychiatric care, she said.
And depression can be harmful in many ways: relationships, in the work place, and even to the person suffering from it because it can lead to suicide and inability to function normally.
Dr. Daquilanea explained that it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain that leads to depression.
Sadness, especially when it becomes a prolonged emotion, lowers serotonin in our brains.
Because of this, part of the treatment involves giving patients medicine that helps raise the production of serotonin in their brains and restore that balance of the chemicals that control our moods.