Doctors urged members of the public yesterday to pay the right kind of attention to people suffering from depression and not simply say stock phrases of encouragement.
The Canlove Social Service Association invited three psychiatrists to share their professional experiences in the hope that people could better understand depression and learn the appropriate kind of attention to give to people with depression.
More than 2.2 million people in Taiwan are likely to be suffering from depression, the association estimated, based on medical research.
However, most of their families and friends do not know how to take proper care of them.
People try to comfort depressed individuals by saying things like “Don’t be sad,” “Try to be more open-minded” or “You have to help yourself,” according to Fan Ting-wei, one of the psychiatrists.
“However, the most important thing is that they need someone to be with them and listen to them,” Fan said. “They need someone around them to try to understand them.”
People with depression are usually negative and pessimistic, so it is very important to help them find a focus, a goal or a hobby of some kind, suggested Su Po-wen, a psychiatrist at National Taiwan University Hospital.
“Taking medicine is not absolutely necessary,” Su said, echoing Fan’s earlier remarks that professional help is of the utmost importance.
Shih Yi-hsian, a psychiatrist who once suffered from depression, agreed, saying companionship played a critical part during his recovery process.
The doctors also suggested that people with depression should not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to relieve anxiety. Moreover, patients were advised to remain calm and try to avoid situations that could lead to extreme emotions, such as overexcitement and anger.
Shen Chia-ling, a single mother who has recovered from depression, also attended the press conference and expressed gratitude for the association’s aid.
“I don’t feel lonely anymore,” Shen said. “As long as you’re willing, there are now plenty of resources that can help you fight against the disease.”