Nine signs to watch out for when youâre feeling blue
Dra. Babes Arcena

Nine signs to watch out for when you’re feeling blue

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza (The Philippine Star) - March 15, 2021 - 12:00am

It has been exactly a year since President Rodrigo Duterte announced the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) throughout the Philippines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Though most of the country has downgraded to the Moderate General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), the most lenient quarantine category, the pandemic is far from over.

Recently, over 3,000 new cases were reported each day over several days. And even with vaccines available in the international market, it will take at least a year before more than 100 million Filipinos are inoculated. In the meantime, the government has no recourse but to slowly reopen businesses and tourism to spur the economy. More and more people are out in the streets, as evidenced by heavy traffic during peak hours. Those who can afford to work from home continue to do so. But the pandemic is taking a toll on everyone, financially, physically and mentally. Everyone is affected, and no one has been spared.

I spoke to my psychiatrist friend, Dra. Babes Arcena, to help me better understand depression because I have a number of friends who are suffering from it.  She shared that there are nine common symptoms of depression, and these are the signs to watch out for:

1. Prolonged sadness. You’ve been sad for two weeks, even when there are reasons to be happy

2. Social withdrawal. You begin to avoid your friends and prefer to be alone

3. Change in appetite. You are either eating a lot more or a lot less than normal

4. Sleep changes. You’re getting too much or too little sleep.

5. Excessive intake of alcohol or drugs. You have turned to alcohol or drugs to cope.

6. Loss of focus and concentration. Your mind is easily distracted and wanders off listlessly.

7. Hopelessness and helplessness. You have deep-seated feelings of emptiness and worthlessness.

8. Suicidal thoughts. You harbor thoughts of harming yourself.

9. Suicidal attempts. When you inflict harm on yourself and try to take your own life.

Dra. Babes has noticed that many middle-aged (25 to 50 years old) people have sadly fallen into depression. For many, it’s due to the loss of their jobs or a struggle with life in the new normal. Dra. Babes asks parents who are depressed to try and stay calm for the sake of their children, especially if they have minors at home. Children, after all, are very vulnerable and usually mirror their parents. She encourages the family to do things together like exercise or engage in sports activities. She strongly believes that praying together as a family can do wonders and is a good coping mechanism since Filipinos are known to be prayerful. She also encourages talking to people who are positive influencers in our lives when we’re feeling down. These can be our parents or more “senior” friends who can share words of wisdom.  If this still doesn’t help, and if the depression is already uncontrollable, she urges those who are suffering to seek professional help. There is no shame in seeking professional psychiatric help. There are a number of hospitals that provide free consultation, like the National Center for Mental Health, UP PGH, East Avenue Medical Center and Veteran’s Hospital. There are also hotlines to call 1553 Luzon-wide landline toll free, 0966-3514518, 0917-8998727 or 0908-6392672.

After all, a sound mind in a sound body is a healthy body.

Dra. Babes Arcena is a practicing psychiatrist at St. Luke’s Quezon City and will be seen in Ang Dalawang Ikaw starting March 29 on GMA.

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