Contrary to the myths still circulating in society, clinical depression doesn’t choose its victims. It can happen to a person of any age, educational attainment, religion, financial status, upbringing, and personality. It can happen to even the kindest, strongest, and most spiritual person.
Most people use the term depression too loosely to talk about events that sadden them, but there is a huge difference between sadness and clinical depression. Sadness is a normal feeling you experience when something goes wrong, such as a breakup or getting fired. Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a deeper (but treatable) mental health ailment that lingers for weeks to months, whether the person’s problem is realistic or perceived. “All mental disorders are caused by a complex interaction and combination of biological, psychological, and social factors,” Dr. John Grohol explained in PsychCentral.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, depression carries a high risk of suicide. Are you worried that you’re feeling more than just the blues lately? To spot the signs in a friend, relative, or even yourself, see if you are exhibiting four or more of following:
1. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
2. Constant fatigue and decreased energy
3. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and/or helplessness
4. Insomnia (early-morning wakefulness, difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
5. Irritability and restlessness
6. Persistent sadness, anxiety, or “empty” feelings
7. Overeating or appetite loss
8. Persistent aches or pains, such as headaches, cramps, and digestive problems that do not ease with treatment
9. Thoughts of suicide or actual suicidal attempts
If you have been persistently experiencing these signs for more than two weeks, the most important step to take is to see a doctor. “Don’t try to cope alone,” advised Survivors of Suicide Philippines. “Sometimes problems seem insurmountable or the mental anguish, unbearable. Share how you feel with an open-minded family member, friend, colleague, or trusted advisor. Ask that person to accompany you to a reputable psychiatrist who will help you manage depression with medication and/or therapy. Know that seeing a psychiatrist does not mean you are crazy. Just like heart disease or cancer, clinical depression is a real ailment.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “The idea of talking to a doctor or mental health professional can seem overwhelming.” If you are talking to a friend who is exhibiting the signs of depression, let him/her know that you are there to listen. Offer help finding or getting to a doctor or mental health professional.
Although there is still a stigma attached to it, depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people around the world, from young to old and from all walks of life. “Mental illness is an equal-opportunity illness,” said Margaret Larson, NBC journalist. “One in five adults are dealing with this illness, and many are not getting help because the stigma prevents that.”
Crisis Line (for non-sectarian, non-judgmental telephone counseling):
Landline: (02) 893-7603
Globe Duo: 0917-8001123 / 0917-5067314
Sun Double Unlimited: 0922-8938944 / 0922-3468776
Center for Family Ministries (for spiritual counseling):
Landline: (02) 426-4289 to 92
Online resources for mental health and suicide prevention:
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, are currently depressed, bipolar, or undergoing mental health treatments, there is nothing to be ashamed of. There is help and hope. Join the private Facebook group, Survivors of Suicide – Philippines, to meet educated and open-minded Filipinos who understand your plight.