Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being.  Common symptoms include sadness, anxious, hopeless, helpless, self-worthlessness, guilty, irritable, shame and restlessness.

Depression is a feature of some psychiatric syndromes such as major depressive disorder.  But it may also be a normal reaction to life events such as bereavement of a loved one, a symptom of some bodily ailments or a side effect of some drugs or medical treatment.


Diagnosis of depression

Other features such as early morning waking, loss of appetite, loss of weight and loss of interest in sex and other hobbies are of little help in diagnosing depression as they are also common in other diseases.

Symptoms like persistent low mood without moments of happiness, no longer believing in one’ capacity to feel pleasure and excessive self-blames are more useful in diagnosis.


Causes of depression

There are many causes of depression such as bereavement, neglect, physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse and unequal parental treatment of siblings during childhood; and child birth, menopause, financial difficulties, career problems, stressful medical diagnosis (such as cancer, HIV), being bullied, loss of loved ones, natural disasters etc in adults.


Treatment of depression

Main treatment of depression should be supportive treatment.  Anti-depressants should not be used routinely for initial treatment of mild depression due to low risk-benefit ratio.  Arranging activities to boost the patient’s morale and self-confidence, encouraging, motivation, praising, and keeping in touch with family, friends and fellows will be more beneficial.  If possible, finding or observation for causes of depression for each individual should be done.


Depression in Myanmar

Experts say that the prevalence of mental health problems particularly depression is increasing in Myanmar due to lifestyle changes.  Depression can occur when one too stressed because his wants and hopes do not meet the realities of life.  Today, life is more competitive and challenging so the gap between one’s hopes and reality is often wider.  People will also be more stressed because there are many cultural changes occurring in Myanmar.  These include increasing used of drugs and alcohols and socio-economical problems.

To cope with these growing mental health issues, to urgently develop both mental health systems and human resources in the sector is needed.  Myanmar’s mental health sector is underdeveloped even in comparing to other ASEAN countries.  There are 84 practising psychiatrists and just four practising psychologists in Myanmar according to 2007 WHO report on Mental Health System in Myanmar.  So, finding a psychiatrist or psychologist will not easy in Myanmar except in some big cities such as Yangon, Mandalay and Nawpyidaw. Yangon Mental Health Hospital may be the best choice in Myanmar.  Another problem is mental health specialists in Myanmar generally treat patients with medications only.  Other ways such as encouraging, motivation, counseling and finding underlying cause are still too far.

But there are alternative treatment options in Myanmar.  Meditation is one of them.  It can be considered as a treatment option as meditation is proven scientifically to reduce depression and may even cure if it is done correctly and steadily.  There are too many meditation centres, over the whole country in Myanmar, in which you can learn how to meditate correctly.  It shall be said as the luck of Myanmar peoples to have such an alternative treatment cheaply and easily.

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