Hidden Illnesses

First formed in 1996 Linkin Park quickly rose to fame in the early 2000s. Named by MTV2 as the sixth-greatest band of the music video era and the third-best of the new millennium Linkin Park stayed in the media’s limelight for many years. Famous for his heart wrenching and soul bearing lyrics Chester Bennington, front man of Linkin Park was well beloved by many. Shortly after Linkin Park’s seventh album was launched, Chester was found in his home having hung himself. Chester’s death sent all media platforms into an uproar with how sudden it seemed.

“He was so young, it’s tragic!” many have said. What’s truly tragic is that his lyrics have shown signs of his depression for years and yet he wasn’t given the help and support he needed. Some have gone on to rant angry posts about how a person who has achieved so much could just be so selfish and kill himself without care for his fan, friends and family. The thing about suicide in depression isn’t that they plan to be selfish, quite the opposite. Often they’re thinking that their loved ones are better off without them or that they wouldn’t be missed.

So if it’s not selfishness then what you may ask is the reason for suicide? Perhaps it could be the lack of knowledge about depression by the public or the resulting lack of support they get. Last year, Singapore saw the highest number of teen suicides in 15 years. There are many factors in a society like ours that leads to suicide in depression becoming more commonplace and comments like “You have it all, what’s there to be depressed about?” and “Just smile and you’ll feel better” aren’t going to change anything.


Lack of knowledge

Imagine telling a cancer patient, “What do you mean you have a blood disease? You look fine stop being such an attention seeker.” Here’s the thing, you wouldn’t do that. The reason is simple, cancer has fast become common knowledge and with that more tolerance and even empathy has come from society because of it. Mental diseases on the other hand are still largely unknown and many still don’t believe in its existence.

According to the Ministry of Health 5.8% of Singaporeans suffer from depression, that means close to 3 in every 50 people are depressed. This isn’t a small number so why isn’t depression more prevalent in education and talks? It would be difficult to get an ailment treated if one does not know the symptoms to look out for. Like many other illnesses, early detection of symptoms could potentially save a life.


Acceptance and Validation

Another possible reason why so many go undiagnosed could be due to the lack of acceptance that mental illnesses are valid illness. “You have depression? You just need to stop being sad and look at things from a different perspective!” This is a phrase so commonly thrown around because people don’t know or rather they don’t believe in depression being “an actual illness”. It seems rather ridiculous that many health professionals in Singapore still readily reject the idea of depression being a valid illness.

Due to the lack of validation of depression being an actual condition, there is an abysmally small amount of research on the condition and possible treatments. Only in recent years has the scientific community decide to research further into the cause of depression and developed medications such as antidepressants. There are many possible causes of depression but recent studies believe that the cause is an imbalance of chemicals in the sufferer’s brain.


Societal Stigma

Depression is so rarely reported in places like Singapore because it still holds a stigma and people don’t believe in it because they haven’t been educated in the subject.  There are more societies and help lines created for those who suffer from depression but very few reach out for help due to the stigma of it being a sign of weakness. Society is basically shaming a sick person for getting help and being sick, doesn’t that seem rather ironic? We need to throw away this stigma of depression being a sign of a mentally weak person, they aren’t just being “overly sensitive” they need help balancing the chemicals in their brains.

With a better educated and more accepting society this stigma should be reduced and more people can go get a diagnosis and professional treatment. It can be hard for someone who suffers from depression to reach out and ask for help so it is our duty as a society to help them once we notice they’re suffering.

We have to break the stereotype of a depressed person and be aware that a person who smiles and is fairly active could still be depressed. A rich and successful person can also be depressed because it’s an actual condition that requires medication and treatment from professionals. A great way to increase awareness is simple, just talk. Talk to your friends, talk to your family – with more people understanding and accepting depression (as well as other mental illnesses) the more people will get help when they need it. How should we spot depression? A simple way to remember is the acronym: SAD CASE.

S –Sleep disturbances

A – Appetite change

D – Depressed mood or feelings of sadness over a sustained period of time

C – Concentration problems

A – Anhedonia: Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

G – Guilt or shame

E – Energy and enthusiasm are low

S – Suicidal thoughts due to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

Some are tough to spot and others are slightly simpler: change of appetite, lack of sleep, low energy/enthusiasm for things, unfocused and no longer enjoying activities they used to love. These are signs that you could look out for in family, friends and maybe even your colleagues. If you spot someone showing symptoms, reach out to them.

Show them that you care and if possible, guide them into getting professional help. Even if you don’t know someone that faces these problems, make it a point to be nice and smile at everyone you meet. We meet so many people in a day it’s hard to tell if one of them may be depressed and suicidal. A smile doesn’t cost much but a smile could save a life.

TLDR: Depression and other mental illnesses are valid so learn to be accepting and raise awareness on this issue. Lives could be saved if only more people knew how to deal with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *