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Money problems the biggest source of depression: doctor

31 March 2016

Dr. Manio
By Daisy CL Mandap

Avoid taking out loans as this could lead to depression, and even suicide. This was the stern warning aired by Dr. Michael Manio in a lecture at the Consulate on Mar 20, held to mark International Women’s Day.
Dr. Manio, who is with the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, was asked to speak on depression and suicide, in the wake of a rise in the number of Filipino domestic workers taking their own lives in the territory.
He said financial pressures are the biggest source of depression among migrant workers, who are already at high-risk for this ailment as they are working away from their loved ones who give them emotional support.
The depression, if left unchecked, could lead to suicide.
“Walang nagsu-suicide kung walang na de-depress,” he said.
Dr. Manio was joined at the lecture by Vice Consul Alex Vallespin, who heads the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section; and social welfare attache Beth Dy, who offered help for those who suffer depression.
Dr Manio said Filipino community organizations could help prevent suicides by ensuring that their members are not burdened with work, or pressured into raising money for the group.
“Refrain from doing money contests, especially beauty contests,” said Dr. Manio.
As part of a study that he did, Dr. Manio said he listened to staff of a financial company exerting pressure on a domestic worker who had defaulted on her monthly payment and was surprised by the extreme tactics used.
He advised organizations to help members de-stress by holding team-building exercises twice a year.
At a question and answer session that followed his lecture, Dr. Manio also acknowledged that forming a peer support group would also be useful in preventing depression and suicides.
From the medical viewpoint, he said depression is seen as a mood disorder that causes people to lose interest in everything around them. The person feels very sad, hopeless and unimportant, and often is unable to live in a normal way. The afflicted may even turn to excessive drinking, or other forms of reckless behavior.
When feelings such as these persist for weeks, the person affected should immediately talk to a friend, or seek professional help.
While depression can be genetic, meaning one is born pre-disposed to it, it could also be brought on by extremely stressful life events such as the loss of a loved one, or the combination of a series of mood-altering incidents.
Dr. Manio said depression comes in different types, including one that is persistent or major, or is due to bipolar disorder, season affected disorder (often induced by the onset of winter), psychosis, post-partum (after childbirth), or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.
Apart from financial strain, the other non-medical causes of depression are marital or relationship probles, loneliness, lack of social support, a recent stressful life experience, a family history of depression, early childhood trauma or abuse, unemployment or underemployment, and chronic pain.
To ease or prevent depression, Dr Manio said one’s diet should also be checked. Food that help elevate serotonin levels in the body like lacto bacilli drinks (such as Yakult), coffee (no more than four cups a day), dark chocolate, walnuts and fish and tuna are said to be good at lifting spirits.
Finally, he advised workers to hold on to their faith, whatever their religion, and to try to always keep a positive attitude to avoid depression.
“Suicide is not a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” said Dr. Manio. – with a report from Lenin Flores
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