Asia-Pacific, Philippines, Human Rights

Depression and Emotional Distress in the Philippines

Depression has long been an issue anywhere in the world and many have recognized how destabilizing it can be. Hence, there have been clinics that cater to the needs of people who think they might be undergoing emotional distress. Studies show that it could be due to several factors and may not just be third-party triggered. As such, people who think they experience this are lucky if they have access to a facility that can help them recover. But not all countries see this as important. In as much as we want each other to be better, in some countries like the Philippines, it is still seen as a laughing matter.

Why Depression and Emotional Distress is Difficult in the Philippines

In the Philippines, whenever you feel down, they would tell you that you are just being emotional and are overreacting. They say that you can get over things that pull you down by training your mind how to think. That you can trick it into thinking that you do not care. What most people do not know, is that if it were that easy, nobody would feel depressed. Depression is not something you do to yourself. It is something that happens. Though we recognize that how we feel and react is dependent on our perspective and that there is a point up to which people can influence their mind. But depression is not easily explained or treated and not everyone has total control over the condition.

The thing here is when you tell people that you need help, some would laugh at you and tell you that it is the effect of watching too much TV. So, what do emotionally distressed Filipinos do? They carry the burden alone.

Depression is Ignored in the Philippines

Sometimes, the pain does go away for a while, when they go out with friends or when they travel, but there are just times when the mind will whisper back and tell you that you are not OK.

People who feel it certainly do not want it and don’t tolerate it, but it is like their brain is working against itself. But then, because of the criticism, individuals who experience this sometimes doubt themselves and succumb to facing their distress alone. Thus, there are people who become easily irritated, withdrawn, and unmotivated.

Simply put, in the Philippines, emotional distress is not allowed to exist as a serious problem among family or friends. It is seen as self-inflicted and temporary, a condition that can be forgotten over coffee or by drinking and getting wasted all night. In the Philippines, people with depression are stigmatized with a mental disorder.

Emotional Distress and Financial Setbacks

Though some may be able to seek medical help but, rest assured, they are anything but affordable. Specialists in emotional distress and depression charge as much as twice the professional fees of doctors specializing in other illnesses. Moreover, medications don’t come cheap either. And with a country like the Philippines where most people earn around USD 200-300 a month, being treated or, at least, being diagnosed is never going to be a benefit but a luxury.

Depression in the Philippines: Actions Done

Nonetheless, as the rate of youth suicide rates rose in 2016, the Senate has seen the necessity of passing the Senate Bill 1163 or the Youth Suicide Prevention Act. The bill aims to strengthen the roles of academic institutions and municipal government in the awareness and better treatment for individuals in emotional distress. Seeking to understand this phenomenon, it was found that, as of 2016, there are only about 400 psychiatrists in the country. This only shows that there aren’t many professionals that can help in the diagnosis and treatment of such cases.

But in the meantime that full treatment seems to be a bit far-fetched for most middle-class sufferers, the next time someone tells you that they need help, do not laugh but listen instead.

About Patricia Abrihan

Patricia has always been inspired by the witty yet innocent voice of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that she believes that writing is able to revolutionize ideas of society. She is a former college instructor from the Philippines and is currently a freelance writer and blogger managing her portfolio. She is open to collaboration and also loves reading and watching movies.

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