Doctor’s Appointment | Depression affecting one in ten Jamaicans
Season three of Doctor's Appointment has begun! For the first appointment, the focus was on an illness that affects one in 10 Jamaicans and more than 350 million people worldwide.
Dr Geoffrey Walcott, consultant psychiatrist and clinical director, Psychotherapy Associates Ltd, joined host Dr Sara Lawrence to discuss the ins and outs of depression, its various manifestations and what treatment options are available for people who are living with the malady.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said millions of people suffer from the condition that Dr Walcott says is a group of mental disorders where a person has difficulty regulating their emotions.
Explaining that depression is not a single entity, he says that the illness manifests in various forms, like manic depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, dysthymia or schizophrenia.
Manic depressive disorder, sometimes referred to as bipolar disorder, is a form of depression that causes drastic changes in one's normal mood accompanied by high states of energy. Dysthymia is a long-term form of chronic depression, often leading to major depression like mania.
But schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder that involves a breakdown in the relation between emotion and behaviour, leading to faulty perceptions, withdrawal or even delusion. But all types of depression are associated with one thing, anhedonia, an intense feeling of sadness.
Dr Walcott noted that distress and dysfunction in the mind and emotions are key indicators of a depressive episode.
WEALTH OF OTHER SYMPTOMS
Yet, depression comes with a wealth of other symptoms, too, including emotional issues like overwhelming anxiety, a diminished ability to think or concentrate, indecisiveness
as well as excessive or inappropriate guilt. Physically, too, it can take a toll on the body, causing vague aches and pains, headaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, back pain and significant changes in appetite, resulting in either weight loss or gain.
Along with these symptoms come a lack of desire to socialise or be around people. Dr Walcott makes the point that for persons with depression, a simple task, such as getting out of bed, can seem like a heavy load, and interaction with other people can quickly become a burden.
Many depressed people believe that the solution to that problem is to isolate themselves or fake happiness. But Dr Walcott says this only makes matters worse, since during this alone time many find themselves crying, wallowing in guilt, or even worse contemplating suicide.
The show presented statistics, explaining that 10 per cent of friends contemplate suicide, 800,000 people will commit suicide this year, and at least one person ends their life every 40 seconds.
Relating his own experience with depression, special guest at the Appointment, Gerry McDaniel, recalls his genesis with the illness where he suffered from periods of emotional fluctuation and fatigue. He experienced much trauma in and around the time depression began to affect him, including the lost of a business, the demise of his marriage and losing free access to his children.
He says that he fell into a bout of sadness despite being rallied around by friends, having a new job and rekindling his spirituality. But the help he needed came sooner than he expected. McDaniel says after consulting with his doctor and being prescribed medication, he has been better able to cope with and manage his illness, as well as the symptoms that come along with depression.
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE
"There is always hope, as long as you're alive," says Dr Walcott.
He encourages people to treat depression like what it rightfully is ... an illness.
He says like anything else that makes people unhealthy, treatment is available, whether through medication and/or counselling. He also stressed the fact that depression requires the same measure of support, care and engagement that would be needed if someone had any other chronic illness or medical condition.
At the Appointment, Dr Walcott charged family members, friends as well as colleagues to be not just vigilant to those who may be depressed but also to be accessible, and ready to confront them about getting help.
Following the airing, persons had the unique opportunity to join Dr Yvonne Bailey-Davidson, psychiatrist at Winchester Surgical & Medical Institute, live on Facebook to continue the look at depression. She gave participants tips on how to manage depression and where to seek help in Jamaica, as well as how to be a good support system for a depressed loved one.
IT AFFECTS MILLIONS
Depression is a mental illness that affects millions - children and adults alike. Consequently, it affects how a person feels, thinks and acts, and how they will handle stress, relate to others or make decisions. Therefore, it is important to maintain good mental and emotional health, bearing in mind that your illness does not define you, your strength and courage does.
Join us next week Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on TVJ when we look at one of the rarest cancers, multiple myeloma, with guest, Dr Monica Taylor. Doctor's Appointment is a family and health-oriented television programme that is produced by Maverick Communications Limited.