There is a killer that kills not just the individual afflicted but also all that are near and dear in some sort of many ways.
WHO had chosen the World Health Day this year to highlight the traumatic illness known euphemistically as " depression ".
In Bhutan this illness is not socially abhorred as leprosy and it is not dreaded as AIDS. It seems to be an illness of the mind but quite different from what we generally categorise as "chhelo" ( insane or mad ) though some symptoms could be familiar. And yet when one goes over what Doctor Chencho the Psychiatrist had to say about it, it is quite startling. Seems that suicide tendency is interlinked to depression. This illness seems to be difficult to diagnose and tedious to treat. Looks like the doctor, the patient and family members have to be exceptionally patient and be in possession of the deepest of faith in finding a cure. There is no certainty that normal equilibrium can be re- established and if possible when? But if diagnosed on time, it seems that full successful treatment is possible like that of any other disease.
On and off, I have come across Doctor Chencho talking about it on BBS or through some writeups. But this time, the good Doctor really made an all out effort to penetrate that public screen that most of us shield ourselves and unmask in the most literal sense this illness called " Depression". Really appreciate your endeavours Doctor Chencho.
Last night I saw part of the interview BBS had with Doctor Chencho. This morning I read the Kuensel article which quoted him and this afternoon, I came across in fb what the Doctor said courtesy a lady named Tshering Wangmo.
Depression appears to be like the Bhutanese nation animal " Takin ". Impossible to make out what it really is by examining the hoofs, tail, body, head or horns. It's such an assorted kind of animal and so seems to be this illness.
I want to thank the good Doctor who appears to be such a concerned Samaritan in his sincere and earnest quest to combat so many parts of " Depression" : The attitude of the society, the characteristics of the disease, the inadequacies of the facilities and insufficiencies of medicines within the country, the lack of trained health workers, the vulnerability of any age, status or otherwise healthy looking people to depression and so on. As many as 20000 citizens could be suffering from amongst the 680000 national population but so far identified or known cases are just about a 1000. And even this number cannot be adequately treated for so many reasons he outlined.
The best cure seems to lie in TALKING about it. Depression seems to be a consequence not the starting factor. Like drops of rain that result in flood or landslide. A patient of such nature might not be able to reveal his inner thoughts or fear to his family or even to his regular intimate friends. Just my own perception. If it was possible maybe depression would not have set in because he or she would always have access to regular friends and family members. The thought or fear that trouble the patient may be related to the family or friends and that may inhibit openness with those very people. A regret or frustration or extreme guilt that arose from having hurt or resulted in hurting the status of well being of oneself or someone close by for which one is helpless in finding a remedial solution. Such a dilemma of mental health could give rise to depression.
The ideal companion for a mentally depressed person would ofcourse be a professional psychiatrist. Bhutan has too few of them. Also a small society environment is not conducive to the need of incognito that a patient may desire and feel comfortable to share open the inner thoughts or fears. A complete stranger may also not serve the purpose as trust could be the key factor in opening up a patient's emotion. So next to a good Doctor who may have limited time to spare, a reliable acquaintance ( not intimate nor stranger) to talk to might be ideal to help a person under depression.
Maybe any of us who are good sincere listeners and have the time and patience to hear out and respond can be of beneficial help to such patients.