What Actually is Depression?
People use the term “depression” liberally when expressing sadness. But what actually is depression and is there a difference between the two?
Depression is a serious and complex mood disorder that can affect a person’s daily routine. Unlike sadness, it is not just an emotion that we feel when something tragic happens or when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Emotions as such tend to heal on its own as time passes by and we move on.
However, that may not be the case for depression.
Depression is a long-term mental condition that usually lasts for weeks or even months. It is an illness that if left untreated, has a possibility of getting worse according to recent studies. It is something that should not be taken lightly and thankfully, over the years, many people have been raising awareness of this issue through social media and mental health movements. However, the reality of the situation is still far from satisfactory as many people are still making light of this matter.
The Depressing Reality
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia, 1.8% of Malaysians (approx. 515,700 people) were diagnosed with depression while 0.5% (142,500 people) attempted suicide. The study also showed that females were more affected than males and that the highest prevalence was among the Indians.
Another study also showed that students of the age of 13-17 years old are just as likely to suffer from depression. In fact, among 25,507 high school students, around 17.7% of them suffer from depression and 6.8% of them have made suicide attempts. Some of the reported reasons are as listed below:
- Exam stress
- Family problems
- Issues with friends
- Problems with their teachers
However, despite these alarming numbers, it is estimated that only less than 25% of them actually make an initiative to get treatment. To make things worse, some of them don’t even have the opportunity to get treated. Penang Institute policy analyst, Lim Su Lin, once brought up this issue saying,
“There is a critical shortage of clinical psychologists in Malaysia and very few are with government mental health services. There are only 92 clinical psychologists in the country.”
“The number of psychiatrists has increased in recent years but the psychiatrist-to-population ratio has only increased marginally.”
It is clear that when it comes to providing care and raising awareness for depression, our country still has a lot of room for improvement. Therefore, I have sourced and gathered a few signs to help identify whether a person may be suffering from depression or not. If you suspect that you, or a loved one, could be facing depression, these are some signs that you can look out for.
Signs of Depression
- Loss of Interest in Daily Activities
- Insomnia or Hypersomnia
- Loss of Energy
- Feeling Sad, Lonely or Hopeless
- Physical Agitation
- Recurring Thoughts of Death and/or Suicide
- Feeling Excessive Worthlessness or Guilt
- Significant Weight Loss
- Inability to Concentrate or be Decisive
Even though it may be difficult at first to seek treatment for mental health issues, be assured that it is no different from going to a doctor when you’re sick. Let’s not be afraid to seek for help as we learn to take better care of ourselves and others.