According to Bernama, health deputy minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya has said that a health ministry study conducted last year has found 18,336 Malaysians suffering from various stages of depression. He added that these findings were obtained through mental health screening programmes conducted on 273,203 individuals at health and community clinics last year.

Of these, 4.03% (11,811 people) were found to suffer from mild depression, 1.26% (3,680 people) had moderate depression and 0.62% (1,682 people), severe depression.

“At the same time, mental health screenings conducted by the Education Ministry on 253,196 Form Four students found that 0.45%  or 1,163 students suffered from depression,” he told the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday.

Dr Hilmi was replying to a question from Tan Kok Wai (DAP-Cheras) who wanted to know the number of Malaysians suffering from the different stages of depression, as well as the causes and treatments provided.

However, he said the problem of depression in the country was not at a worrying stage although attention must be given to tackle it.

On the causes of depression in the country, Dr Hilmi said there were several factors including brain chemistry imbalance, mood regulation problems, inability to handle life events, genetics and prescription drugs. He said the treatment for depression depended on the seriousness of the situation.

He remarked: “For mild and moderate depression, counselling and response skills and relaxation technique sessions are held, while those suffering severe depression will be referred to the family medical expert or psychiatrist for further treatment.”

At present, he said, there were four mental institutions in the country, namely in Permai, Johor; Tanjung Rambutan, Perak; Bukit Padang, Sabah; and Sentosa in Sarawak while 33 government hospitals provided psychotherapy and counselling services for the treatment of depression.

Photo / 123RF

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