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Depression: Treatments Can Lead to Complete Recovery

Posted February. 27, 2005 23:11,   


Lee Eun-joo, an actress and a TV talent, who had a calm voice and subdued eyes, committed suicide on February 22. She had enjoyed popularity with her good performance.

Lee visited a psychiatry clinic for depression treatments one month ago. It is hard to judge that her suicide was necessarily a result of her depression. However, it is difficult to fully separate her suicide and her depression. Among the annual 10,000 suicides occurring in South Korea, presumably 80 percent of the victims suffered depression.

First of all, depression first deprives the joys of eating and sleeping. Digestive disorders and insomnia are the representative symptoms of depression. Lee suffered severe sleeplessness and her doctor prescribed her sleep inducement medications. Some depressives go through having impediments in their speech and experience weakened concentration.

Depression is a common type of illness. But comparatively, there are few numbers of patients who admit their illness and who are active in getting treatment. The more people receive higher levels of education and have strong self-respect, the less willing they are to admitting their psychological problems. When depressives think that “I am going to cure myself by controlling my mind” and make the effort to do so, the symptoms tend to get worse. Some of them rely on alcohol and become alcoholics.

When depressives agonize over their symptoms without getting active treatments, they are highly likely to have suicidal thoughts. Chronic depressives experience difficulty controlling themselves due to the abnormalities in the neurotransmitter systems in their brains.

Doctors prescribe medication treatments and psychotherapies side by side. Most depressives witness quick improvements in their symptoms when receiving medication treatments. The rate of full recovery is high.

In psychotherapy, interesting group activities are helpful for depression patients. According to experts, depressives should stay far away from solitary activities such as reading books or playing computer games in confined space alone. It is recommended for them to work out in the outdoors or go for walks to expose themselves to sunlight as much as possible.

One alerting fact is that many suicidal accidents occur when depressives see gradual improvements in their symptoms. When severe depression haunts patients, they even can’t conceive the idea of committing suicide in numbness. Making gradual progress, they come to realize their situations and suffer from humiliation. Those taking care of depressives should show more attention instead of having a sense of relief even if their patients show effects of treatments.

(Reference: Professor Yoon Se-chang from Department of Psychiatry at Samsung Medical Center, and Professor Hong Jin-pyo from Department of Psychiatry at Asan Medical Center.)

TK Sohn sohn@donga.com