Is an EPIDEMIC of DEPRESSION looming in Malaysia?

On 2 September 2018, the Star Newspaper in Malaysia published several startling articles on ‘Depression’. Here is a quote by Dr Andrew in the article ‘ Alarming spike in Mental Health Issues, warns MMHA’:

“This is a three-fold jump from a similar survey done by KKM a decade earlier,” he said, referring to the Health Ministry. “This means three out of 10 Malaysians need some form of psychological help.”

He mentioned specific data on depression in children and teenagers was not tabulated or made available in Malaysia. However, Dr Andrew Mohanraj referred to the 2015 national morbidity survey that showed 29.2% of Malaysians aged 16 and above had some form of mental health issues.

Here is an extract from another article “ Depression can happen to anyone” on the same date:

“DEPRESSION is a common, serious illness and not a personal weakness. Depression can happen to anyone, at any age. It can be triggered by chemical imbalance in the brain, hormonal changes, medication or things going on in your life. Experts say depression is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. About 60 to 80% of depressed people can be treated successfully”.

Mr Samuel Yesuiah published his letter on the Star dated 28 August 2018 and shared the reality on suicides in Malaysia:

“SUICIDE is a frightening reality that has become a scary trend in our society. A media report says that there is an average of two suicides a day in our country.

A medical newsletter reports that suicide will be the country’s second biggest cause of death after heart disease in five to 10 years.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over a million people commit suicide every year and five per cent of the people in the world have tried to kill themselves at least once during their lifetime.

In Malaysia, most suicide cases happen among people aged between 15-30 and 50-75.

Mr Raymond Lee Kok Han, a licensed and registered Counsellor, wrote to the Star in his letter ‘How to put an end to Suicide’ on 4 September begging the New Government to create a comprehensive policy to address this public health issue.

In a nutshell, the Star and all the concerned authors are awakening us to the fact that we may have a Depression epidemic in our hands. While the number of 60% to 80% treatable cases may sound comforting, it signals that the remainder would pile up the suicidal statistics. We need to act quickly to understand what really is ‘depression’ to halt it at its track. Treatments suggested will not stop the crisis from spreading as it is a remedial response which works at dousing symptomatic level. We need to unearth the fundamentals that we believe cause the depression.

Whilst it might be coincidental that the Academy is handling a severe suicidal case at this juncture, it creates an opportunity for us to gain a greater understanding on this subject to help these ‘silent sufferers’ and reverse this terrible trend. We will be explaining over the next few weeks the progress of this case and how the Academy helps stabilize this person.