Oct 31, 2019 News
Many suffer silently with depression and may never know that what they are feeling is not normal. People tend to think that the significant dejections that they experience are not associated with the mental illness called depression.
As such, depression goes unrecognised and untreated, since it is an illness that persons disregard its signs and symptoms.
Depression, although debilitating in its course, is easily detected. It can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, race or status, amongst other criteria. According to international statistics, approximately one in five people is depressed.
This means that many suffer silently with disturbances in their social life and relationships and at their jobs. This is due to the fact that depression is not obvious to the public eye.
Dr. Stephon Henry, a Psychiatrist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), highlighted in an interview with this publication that depression can have serious consequences if left untreated.
He noted, “Someone with depression may not even know that they have it. It can literally creep up on you. If depression goes untreated, it can have a major effect on all aspects of an individual’s life.”
He justified that evidence shows that risky behaviour can be adopted, more specifically leading to alcohol and drug abuse or addiction.
“It can also complicate serious health problems such as heart disease or cancer as you would have a difficult time making good healthcare choices. They [persons with depression] find it difficult to pull themselves together,” he stated.
He added that chronic pain is also known to develop.
Dr. Henry added that depression can complicate relationships by causing problems with sexual desire and performance.
According to the Psychiatrist, it can also cause problems at work as an individual with depression would experience the inability to function well, and may end up losing their job as a result. He added that lack of sleep and or oversleeping is evident.
“A person living with depression can die from suicide. In their depressive state, they would not be able to imagine a happy future, a happy life. They do not want to die but they cannot live in a bleak world either,” he said.
Dr. Henry explained, “Without proper treatment, including antidepressants and or psychotherapy, untreated clinical depression can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression.”
He elaborated that once the mental illness is diagnosed, the minimum time a patient should be treated for is six months. He noted that studies also indicate that if depressive episodes occur less than two and a half years apart then the treatment for five years can be used.
“In Guyana, presently if an individual feels depressed they can seek help from their health centres where the doctors are trained to diagnose depression and even manage some cases. They also have the option to refer to the nearest psychiatrist if they cannot handle the situation.
Help is available at the Mental Health Unit at Quamina Street, Georgetown, where there are multiple social workers and psychologists. At GPHC, there is a Psychiatry Department where there are social workers, psychiatrists, residents in psychiatry and psychologists. Patients will need a referral form any health care provider to be attended to at GPHC.”
The Psychiatrist also noted that help can be aided from the Suicide Prevention Hotline at (592)223-0001, (592)223-0009, (592)600-7896 or (592)623-4444.
Dr. Henry noted that treatment of patients with mental illness involves a team approach. He explained that the team consists of a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker. The psychiatrist prescribes medication, the psychologist conducts psychological evaluation and psychotherapy whilst the social worker offers counseling and offers social support.
In a recent interview, Dr. Nickram noted that the locations of other psychiatric clinics aside from the GPHC and the National Psychiatric Hospital are at Bartica, Linden, Mahaicony, Enmore, Leonora, Parika, Mabaruma and Lethem.
Dr. Stephon Henry is a Psychiatrist working with the Ministry of Health and attached to GPHC. He studied medicine in Cuba at the General Calixto Garcia University Hospital through a Government of Guyana Scholarship.
He graduated in 2013, and was immediately employed by the Ministry of Health. He will graduate with a Master’s of Medicine in Psychiatry at GPHC’s Institute of Health Science Education through the University of Guyana in November.
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