Depression is a silent parasite taking over the world today. Family problems? Career? Relationships? Financial problems? Expectations? These are often the reasons that account for the alarming number of depression nationwide.
The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disease burden globally. 350 million people are estimated to be affected worldwide.
According to the National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS) findings just released by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, the number of mental health patients drastically increased by two-fold in the recent decade.
“4.2 million out of 14.4 million Malaysians aged 16 and above
suffer from mental health issues.”
-Deputy Director-General of Health (Public Health)
Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman
“What happens if life doesn’t turn out the way we want?”
As we grow older, we begin trading our childhood imagination and belief of endless possibilities for a fixed and concrete perception on life. When we’re placed in real life events that do not flow the way we imagine it to, we fall apart as we fail to accept the harshness that life can bring us, which can result in depression.
Some turn to coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking and substance abuse. Although these may alleviate the depression for a very short time, in the long-run, these will only take a toll on you and your health.
The Science Behind It
Feeling sad, agitated and restless are considered normal, therefore these emotions are often overlooked and dismissed. However, some suffer from prolonged sadness, which results in chronic depression.
“Low blood serotonin levels equals to psychiatric problems.”
- Simon N. Young; Renowned Professor of Psychiatry, McGill University (Canada)
Serotonin is the hormone that elevates your mood, and fights the imbalanced brain chemical activity. In laymen terms, they are known as ‘happy hormones’. When you are in a depressed state, serotonin levels in your brain will deplete. At extremely low levels, the tendency to have suicidal thoughts and temptations to dare fate are the most worrying of all such as driving fast on the road or not stopping when traffic lights turn red. Getting more serotonin into the brain or stimulating serotonin activity will help to relieve depression.
Another factor is the food that you consume daily as depression can be associated with subtle nutrient deficiency. For instance, lack of healthy fats, folic acid and selenium in your diet may put you at risk of depression. This will result in serotonin depletion that takes a huge toll on your mood.
What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
- Changes in eating habits
- Persistent feeling of sadness
- Feeling agitated, angry, frustrated, anxious
- Sleeping disorder
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Reckless behaviour
- Inability to concentrate
- Suicidal thoughts
If someone you know is suffering from depression or is showing any of the above signs, do listen to them closely. It is not merely an emotion; progressive long-term sadness leads to pathological sadness which needs medical treatment. They can’t just ‘snap out of it’.
Please seek professional medical advice immediately if you or your loved ones have any of these signs and symptoms. Remember there is no shame is seeking help. And always keep in mind that help is available, you just have to reach out.
For a detailed list of counselling services available in Malaysia, kindly refer to the Malaysian Mental Health Association’s Directory of Counselling Services.
Below are 3 organisations you may contact for help:
Tel: 03-7956 8144 or 03-7956 8145 (24 hours hotline)
Email: [email protected]
Address: 95 Jalan Templer
46000 Petaling Jaya
Opening Hours [Face-to-face counseling]: Mon – Sat (0830 – 1900)
2. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
Tel: 03-7877 4221
Email: [email protected]
Address: 85, Jalan 21/1, Sea Park,
46300 Petaling Jaya
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri (0900 – 1730); Sat: By Appointment Only
3. Department of Counselling, Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2615 5970 / 5971 / 5773
Address: Unit Psikologi Kaunselling
Hospital Kuala Lumpur
50586 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri (0830 – 1700)