In Singapore, where roughly 5.6% of citizens are beset with depression at least once in their lifetimes, only about 31.8% obtain professional treatment and that too after considerable delay. It is the stigma surrounding a mental illness and/or fear of being snubbed that discourage depressive individuals from speaking about their condition or seeking medical intervention. Channel News Asia recently highlighted two cases of Singaporeans.
Case Analysis 1
Katie used to be a bubbly and happy-go-lucky teenager getting on with life with a spirit of joie-de-vivre. She was like most teens of her age, going to school with hands in her pockets, completing her tasks at school and home, and socializing with friends till she started to behave differently. She could not come up with answers for the simplest of questions and often her teachers and classmates found her staring blankly.
Slowly she started avoiding meeting friends and found no interest in socializing online or in real life. She used to keep to herself most of the time and dwelled in an imaginary world of her own creation. She was taken to a mental health clinic in Singapore where the medical practitioner diagnosed her condition as depression.
Case Analysis 2
Madame Junainah Eusope still remembers the day when a psychiatrist in Singapore for the first time told her that she was suffering from depression. She could not believe her ears when the doctor told her that she was mentally ill. She had been working as a nurse in Woodbridge Hospital in Singapore and used to inspire the mental patients admitted there and now she was one of ‘them’.
Not Isolated Cases
These might seem like isolated cases of mental illnesses diagnosed by psychiatrists in Singapore. However, the reality is far more disturbing and if reports filtering out of the IMH (Institute of Mental Health) are anything to go by, 1,800 more patients were found to be suffering from clinical depression in 2015 which in medical parlance is called major depressive disorder (MDD). This represented a 7% increase which had been consistent for the last three years.
The Institute of Mental Health in Singapore had carried out a study in 2010 which established that every 1 out of 17 individuals are being diagnosed with the above disorder at some point in their lifetime. The study also pinpointed that 90% of the population believed that people with mental illnesses were weak and unpredictable. This implied that the stricken individuals could recuperate if they so desired.
Depression Is Treatable
Contrary to what the populace believes in, the psychiatrist in Singapore asserts that grave mental disorders like schizophrenia, OCD, dementia and depression more often than not are psychosomatic and have an organic foundation. This, in turn, meant that the above ailments were treatable. Fortunately, persons incapacitated
Fortunately, persons incapacitated by mental illness in Singapore and their respective families have become more receptive and are willing to talk about their experiences and go for treatment for putting their lives back on track.
Written By Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic
Channel News Asia – “The stigma of depression: Those who suffer in silence” 18 May 2016
Singapore Health Promotion Board – Depression