His alert came in reply to yesterday’s lead story in which Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh, acting as Health Minister, had warned that TT has about 100,000 persons facing depression of sort at some time in their lives.
Gopeesingh himself did not want to add too much to his Senate speech but yesterday told Newsday that depression can arise in two ways, either in reaction to a situation such as stress (“reactive depression”), or arise inwardly within a person (“endogenous depression”). It may range from being be mild to severe, and people may respond by seeking medical treatment or by trying to cope on their own, added Gopeesingh.
Deyalsingh was concerned that depression is growing.
“Women are twice as likely as men to get depression,” said Deyalsingh. “The female population is at more risk of depression in years to come.”
He suggested many reasons for this. This included stresses due to the burdens of both work and child-rearing (especially for single mothers), poverty, physical and sexual abuse, women’s changing role in society, the “empty nest syndrome” of older women left alone by the death of husband and the departure of their children, and the female reproductive cycle in which hormonal fluctuations can lead to post-natal depression and pre menstrual syndrome (PMS).
He said that severe depression is treated by medication, while mild to moderate depression can be treated with talk therapy also known as psycho therapy.
“Talk is very, very important,” he said of the latter class.
While he did not offer an opinion on Gopeesingh’s call to decant some in-patients from St Ann’s Hospital to out-patient centres, Deyalsingh was glad for TT’s two Community Mental Health and Wellness Centres, respectively at 135 Eastern Main Road, Barataria, and Pembroke Street, Port- of-Spain. “People can come in, see a social worker and talk out their problems,” he said. “More such clinics are needed throughout Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said these centres are staffed every day, including a doctor visiting about once or twice per week, unlike outpatient mental health clinics run at clinics through the country which are open just one day per week or one day per fortnight.
He said wellness centres would let persons readily talk about any identifiable sources of their depression, such as poverty, relationship woes and being a victim of crime. He said crime causes depression by creating a sense of helplessness in victims. Ill health could also cause depression, said Deyalsingh, saying that if you cannot move because of arthritis, you’ll likely be depressed. Alcohol abuse can lead to depression, especially in the suffering family-members of an alcoholic.
“Alcohol is a major problem,” he said, urging action by the Government and Judiciary.
“The whole family can get depressed of a child involved in cocaine, marijuana or alcohol,” Deyalsingh lamented.