Statistics on depression and bipolar disorder among Filipinos are rather sketchy. Experts admit that existing figures might not be accurate, since Filipinos more often hide or deny mental illnesses out of shame or fear.  

Back in 2004, the Department of Health estimated that 4.5 million Filipinos suffered from depression. In 2011, the WHO released a statement, saying the Philippines had the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia. The most serious consequence of depression is suicide. This is why depression should not be taken for granted.

According to the Philippine Psychiatric Association, the suicide rate among Filipinos has gone up. As of 2012, some 2,558 Filipinos committed suicide; in which majority are males. That number only reflects reported suicides. Experts suspect that many cases of suicide in the Philippines are kept secret by families.

So what’s the difference between depression and bipolar disorder? According to Dr. Tomas Bautista, MD, a psychiatrist at ManilaMed, depression is a “down” or low mood. A patient may feel sad, hopeless, and lose interest in the things one used to enjoy. In more severe cases, a depressed person may be unable to report to work or to school.

A person with bipolar mood disorder experiences two extremes of mood. At one extreme, he or she experiences depression. This may then switch to the other extreme, which is mania. Persons with mania experience a heightened mood. They feel on top of the world, laugh or speak too loud, feel boundless energy and need less sleep. They also engage in risky behavior with dangerous consequences. Like depression, bipolar disorder may also lead to suicide.

Managing mood disorders

According to Dr. Bautista, it’s important to stay informed about the symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. When these symptoms are recognized, it’s best to consult with a psychiatrist. He explained that depression may be caused by stressful circumstances or traumatic events. In such cases the depression will be cured by medication, therapy, and by helping the patient deal with the stress or trauma.

However, the case is different for some people who have a genetic predisposition to depression or bipolar disorder. For such people, their mood disorder is inherited and has a genetic basis. This means their illness is more likely to recur and may last a lifetime.

To properly manage depression and bipolar disorder, Dr. Bautista advises patients to follow the course of treatment prescribed by their doctors. It’s also better if they practice a healthy lifestyle—a proper diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and stress management.

“A person with depression should also go out in the sun, in the open air. This is good for improving his or her mood. It’s also very important to keep a positive and optimistic mindset. Yes, symptoms can be difficult, but it’s better to stay hopeful and remember that these symptoms eventually pass,” he explained.

With the right treatment and a support system from loved ones, a person with depression or bipolar disorder can still regain their physical, mental, and emotional function, and enjoy quality of life.

Feeling down?  ManilaMed is here to help you #FeelBetter. For further inquiries or consultation, visit ManilaMed or call (02) 523 8131. Go to www.manilamed.com.ph for more information.