You don’t have to suffer in silence. In most cases of panic attack, it usually starts with depression. A female reporter in Hong Kong who successfully juggled the demands of writing for publications around the world suddenly suffered panic attack. She often had panic attacks as she was overwhelmed by feelings of isolation, hopelessness, inadequacy and failure. She would always excuse herself and pretended to have urgent private calls to make so that she could get out and calm down.
A cartoonist for a famous Japanese magazines; suddenly hit a dry spell in 1986 and she was afraid to get out of bed in the morning. She stopped eating and lost seven kilos within a few days. She was left without getting any assignments for a month and spent her time lying in bed, smoking and drinking and was overwhelmed with thoughts of dying. Both the female reporter and cartoonist were suffering from clinical depression.
There are millions of people like them and they kept the illness to themselves. In Japan alone there are more than six millions people suffering from depression according to Dr Takahashi Toru of the Toru Clinic in Tokyo. It is estimated that one in 13 people aged 24 to 64 suffered from depression according to a study done by Singapore National Mental Health survey.
We seldom hear about depression just thirty years ago but the world is different now. People were different then, but presently many human beings have lost their value of life. Many have lost their conscience and killing is everywhere. People live in fear from many kinds of threats and even in the comfort of their homes, danger is there. There is no peace even to just go marketing for fresh vegetables. A bomb may explode anytime, anyplace.
Financial security is one of the main causes for depression. Jobless people or those hardly can make end meet, are usually victims of depression which can after some time of suffering start to have panic attacks. Depressive disorders range from dysthymia – low grade, chronic depression – to bipolar disorder, or manic depression, which causes extreme swings between depressive lows and manic high. Depression remains widely misunderstood and sufferers lead a double life. One minute full of confidence and another minute worse than a little mouse when panic attack. Depression is a taboo among Chinese and if people know that you are depressed, they will avoid you.
I should say broken heart is the worst mental blues and almost everyone gets the blues once in a lifetime. Those who have not experience it are lucky or maybe they have never fallen in love before. They will not be able to grasp the anguish depression brings. It’s so emotionally intense that it paralyses you and says one sufferer, “You never know when it will end, the pain is so overwhelming that you want to end it all.”
People will sometimes give advice with the best intentions for broken heart but says Siti Mohammad, a young female accountant who has lived with depression for much of her life: “Sometimes my relatives will tell me to look at the positive side of things. They say, ‘You have to be strong and believe in God.’ They make it sound as if I could just snap out of it. If it was that simple, I wouldn’t be like this.”
Depression is often inadequately treated or not treated at all because the truth of broken heart may not be admitted by the sufferers. For instance, many Malays believe the emotions lie in the liver and will complain about stomach soreness rather than admit to depression. Among the Chinese, the heart is often seen as the source of emotions, so they complain about chest discomfort. Singapore National University’s Kua says these cultural factors lead to misdiagnosis or no diagnosis at all in as many as one-third of cases.
For the elderly, physical ailments can mask symptoms of depression (it is often confused with Alzheimer’s disease), and there is a belief, even in the medical community, that depression is simply a fact of an older person’s life. According to a study conducted in the 1980s by Dr Lee Aik Hoe, president of the Malaysian Mental Health Association, showed that three-quarters of people who had attempted suicide also suffered from depression.
Rose Lee’s depression nearly killed her. As a teenager, she tumbled into a black pit and said, “I was severely depressed – the pain was terrible. It seemed logical to kill myself.” Richard Ng of Kuala Lumpur said he lost his father to suicide. “He displayed signs of depression – being withdrawn and losing his appetite – signs that I recognized but did nothing about, but when he committed suicide, I was shattered.”
The road to recovery is a tough one but it can be treated. If it is not because of broken heart, then the chances of recovery is good with medication. If it is because of broken heart, then there is no medicine that can cure a broken heart. There are many drugs that physicians can prescribe and certain antidepressants really work effectively so as to allow the sufferers to get on with life. But drug may have side effects like insomnia and sexual dysfunction, professional help is advised in such a case to take the right type and also avoid the risk of taking an overdose.
One of the best rescues is interpersonal and cognitive counselling. Therapy can help to change a patient’s thinking and reappraise their external circumstances. Interpersonal therapy focuses on specific-related problems, while cognitive therapy tries to counter the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that plague those who are depressed. In Malaysia the “Befrienders” is doing an excellent voluntarily job to make life worth living. The 24-hour helpline, modelled on the Samaritans in the United Kingdom, is one of the oldest services in Asia. It has more than 200 volunteers and fielded 24,000 calls a year.
Suicide is a grave sin according to spiritual teachings in almost every religion. Certain religion says that if a person commits suicide, he will also commit suicide for his next seven future lives. I had a relative who committed suicide many years ago. She was one of the most beautiful women in my hometown and married to one of the richest men there. Very fortunate during her younger days because of her beauty, but when her husband passed away early in life, she was cheated of everything she possessed by a conman who only wanted her properties. Unable to take the pain of her broken heart and loss of all her possessions, she took her life.
Author: T.A Chew