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Today I read in the papers a 56 year old man stabbed himself to death apparently due to depression. Then there was this 20 year old man who killed himself jumping off a bridge also they say due to depression. A couple of weeks ago an 17 year old girl committed suicide attributed yet to depression and just last week a woman drank poison after killing her two girls also due to depression and there was also this woman who threw her four year old daughter from a high storey apartment before jumping to her death as according to her relatives she had been suffering from depression. These suicide and murder-suicide are all happening in the last two months! I feel depressed.

What is depression? There are several definitions in the dictionaries.

For me depression can either be classified as major or minor depending on the degree of its expression. The major one I reckon must have something to do with an altered chemical balance in the brain and the minor ones may be just a reaction to life events and the ability to cope with sadness in one’s life. The latter has a lot to do with one’s ability to handle situations as they occur. Dealing with minor depression requires experience, social (family) support and skill. Usually this does not need the use of drugs (medicinal use).

Quite often most people suffering from minor depression can identify what are the contributing factors to their feeling down. It is very important to do so as you can then work out your solutions to resolve the problems and heal your depression.

Major depression is something else. This type of depression is morbid and usually the sufferers don’t even know what is causing their depression. This feeling of hopelessness, loneliness,unloved,uncared,uselessness,profound sadness,deep melancholy and tearfulness, you name it, all these negative feelings and outlook on life are just too much to bear. This form of depression does not only require social support but drugs as well to address the chemical imbalance in the brain.

Sad to say how many people know that major depression need constant medication and medically supervised therapy? Maybe in Western countries treating this form of depression is better organised. I can see problems in countries like multi-ethnic Malaysia where community-based therapy is not that well established. Moreover depression can be culture-related. It can be difficult for a depressed Chinese boy to relate his problem to a Malay health worker.

Religious people tend to look down on people who have different belief so you tell me how does a depressed Chinese/Indian woman,girl and boy get proper therapy? In order to get to the core of depression one may need to ask and understand the depressed person’s world view on his practices. Many things can be universal and yet those that matter may be quite specific and need to be tackled to ensure resolution or scaling down of his/her depression. I honestly feel a reorganisation of mental health care in Malaysia is needed to take into account cultural differences.

Drugs can help to treat major depression but more importantly the depressed person will need to learn to cope with daily life challenges and getting support from relatives and friends that life is worth living.

My heart goes out to the depression victims as I feel that they could be helped had our health system been more multi-ethnic friendly. The over-rated 1-Malaysia Clinics sprouting all over the country look more like a window dressing to me as they are not equipped to deal with mental health problems.We will continue to read about depression-related suicides unless something is done by the community and Health authorities.

I feel depressed (sad,frustrated,hopeless,silently angry blah..blah ) reading about depression and the fatal effects it has on some young and productive people. Their sufferings and tragic end are so unnecessary.

How do I manage my minor depression? I blog about it. I talk about it and I read about positive things and indulge in my favourite topics, the universe, Hubble telescope images and I follow news on NASA shuttle program now that Discovery is on its last flight to outer space after 30 years! All these interests occupy my mind and lessen my depression.

And of course I pray to that Supreme Being and have faith in His design for me. If only those people suffering from fatal depression have faith!

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