It’s more fun in the Philippines! What most know is that Philippines is one of the happiest countries in the world. It ranks 25th happiest country out of all the countries analyzed. However, contrary to popular knowledge, the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia.
According to the Department of Health, there are 4.5 million cases of depression in the country. In 2004, 3% of all the Filipinos are diagnosed with clinical depression. Yet what are the usual causes of depression among Filipinos.
In the US, depression among 1 out of 10 adults is usually attributed to stroke and obesity. Also, it more common among Americans aged 14-44. The most common causes are stressful events and certain personality types.
Incidence of Clinical Depression in PH
People who have clinical depression experience sadness, loss of interest in pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self- worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy ,and poor concentration. It becomes clinical depression when the patient starts to have difficulty in coping up with daily life. When this happens, medical help should be sought.
However, in the case of most Filipinos, they have strong social support. That is why most patients are able to cope up despite the decline in their mental well-being. As a result, problems arising in a Filipino’s social circle may cause more stress as compared to patients in the west.
In an interview with the Head of the Psychology Department in Mapúa Institute of Technology, Professor Jasmine Pinugu, a common cause of clinical depression in the Philippines is loss of a loved one. This is more common among parents whose child died. Once a person’s daily is disrupted, professional help like counseling is sought. This is so that the patient may cope up faster.
Treatment in the Philippines and in the West
There are several ways to treat clinical depression. However, out of 90 filipinos diagnosed with clinical depression, only 30 seek professional help. Professor Pinugu mentioned that there is a stigma among Filipinos that when a person goes to a psychologist or psychiatrist, there is something wrong with him. It may pose as a sign of weakness or insanity. Because of this, only a few patients seek for medical help.
Moreover, the strong social support present in the loves of most Filipinos play a major part in the recovery of depression patients. Instead of attending counseling, Filipinos choose to open up to friends and family.
In the cases of patients who seek professional help, they are usually referred by a friend or family member. In other words, patients don’t usually seek help for themselves. It is through in intervention that he undergoes counseling or psychotherapy.
On the other hand, patients in the US are more individualistic. Their mindset is that they are not affected by social influences. Also, they are groomed and raised to be independent. As a result, their social support is not as strong that is why they choose to talk to professionals than to open up to friends or family.
From Professor Pinugu’s experience, in a Westerners perspective, the presence of a professional is better and more reliable than that of the help that friends or relatives can give.
Help in PH
Because of lack of awareness of what depression really is patients usually have a hard time detecting it. It is usually confused with normal sadness. The difference between the two is unlike sadness, depression disrupts everyday life.
As a result, the likes of counseling and psychotherapy are not in demand. This makes seeking professional help a burden especially for those who cannot afford it. To add more, there are a total of 450 psychiatrists in the country. In all the 4.5 million patients of depression in the Philippines, there is 1 psychiatrist to attend 10,000 of them.
Besides the existing stigma in seeking professional help, there are no enough available psychiatrists in the country.
Clinical Depression: Pinugu, J. (2014, September 18). Personal Interview