While the world is fighting against the pandemic, there is an increasing number of people suffering from mental health illness…
Malaysian’s mental health is being pushed to a breaking point with the commencement of Movement Control Order where many people lost their job and were faced with uncertainty of the future. This has directly escalated anxiety and depression especially among those living from hand to mouth.1
According to a study done this year (2021) to investigate the mental health status of the urban population in Malaysia, it is shown that 23.9% of Malaysian participants have depression symptoms, while 41.7% of them have anxiety symptoms and 31.6% of them were experiencing stress symptoms. 2
What is depression?
Let’s start with what is not depression but sadness. Sadness is an emotional pain associated with, or characterized by, feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, grief and helplessness. It is a natural reaction to circumstances, and it fades with time.
Depression on the other hand it different. Depression also known as major depressive disorder, is a medical illness that negatively affects your daily life from how you feel, the way you think and how you act. For depression to be diagnosed the following must be present:
Pervasive depressed mood (or irritable mood in children) AND/OR marked loss of interest or pleasure unexplained by personal circumstances, e.g. grief, PLUS 4 or more of the following3:
The above listed symptoms must interfere with daily functioning and must last for at least 2 weeks to meet DSM-V diagnostic criteria.
How to help yourself
Stay connected with people.4,5
The tendency to isolate yourself may hinder you from connecting with others but it is difficult to maintain a healthy perspective by yourself. Seeking help from close friends and family is not a sign of weakness, it takes courage to do so. Join some social activities. Take baby steps by hanging out with close and trusted friends to connect with the world.
Start exercising! You may not want to move your body when you are feeling depressed, but exercise is a powerful depression fighter. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. Start by taking a stroll in the park and slowly increase the intensity to jogging or running. Being outdoor also expose you to sunlight which can help to boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.
Do something you enjoy4,5
Do something you once enjoyed that is relaxing but energizing or pick up a new hobby, it can be knitting, hiking or painting. Even thought you cannot force yourself to feel better but you may gradually feel better as you indulge in your hobby
How to help others
Be there for them6
You do not have to fix the problems or be a therapist to help, simply being there for them and listen without judging is a good way to start. People with depression tend to isolate themselves hence you will need to approach them and express your concern.
Encourage them to seek for professional help
There is limitation to what you can do to help them. Encourage them to seek for professional help by finding a therapist for them and bring them for the first visit. The first step might be difficult hence people around them should help in this journey.
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