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We Need To Talk About Depression

Ed’s Note: We at CLEO take depression and mental health very seriously. We hope that this article and our trusted sources will help to shed a little light on what depression actually is, its symptoms and where you can find help. We need to break the stigma.

If you are feeling suicidal or know someone who might be, always reach out and ask for help. Scroll to the end of this article for numbers you can call.


*Featured image is courtesy of Louis Blythe via Unsplash/IMAGE POSED BY MODEL IN NO WAY RELATED TO THIS STORY.


While it’s not fully understood why, certain mental illnesses like depression tend to develop or show symptoms in early adulthood, and the average age of depression onset in the South East Asia region is around 15 to 29 years old. In fact, a whopping total of 86 million South East Asians are affected by depression.

Not too long ago, a post went viral about how an employee asked for a mental health day off work, and her boss responding to her in the most 2017 way ever.


In countries like Australia, employees are entitled to take mental health day — as a  step in the direction of caring for employee’s wellbeing, far beyond the physical. As far as we can see, this isn’t normal practice in regular workplaces here in Malaysia, and even for major parts of the world. Depression and mental health gets lost in the mix — and even celebrities succumb to the tragic consequences. On 20th July 2017, Chester Bennington, lead singer Linkin Park, died of suspected suicide. Earlier last year, Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Audioslave and Soundgarden, also apparently committed suicide.

Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell.

On June 6 2018 social media was abuzz with the news of fashion designer, Kate Spade who was found dead in her apartment in an apparent suicide. According to CNN, Spade had committed suicide by hanging herself.

Kate Brosnahan Spade

You may throw around “adulting is hard” on trivial things, but there might be some science behind it. While our twenties may not be as tumultuous as puberty, there’s a reason why people call it a defining decade. Research has shown that the human brain is still developing, and the frontal lobe — the part of your brain involved in decision-making — only reaches full maturity around 25. On top of that, you’re also experiencing a series of firsts in your career, your relationships, your finances and so on. So it’s no surprise we’re all stressed out. But that stress can actually trigger mental illness.

But what is depression? How do you know for sure if it’s just an utterly crappy day, haywire hormones or – you’re depressed?

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Our society, it’s conservative. We get it. People are quick to judge when someone says he or she feels depressed. The non-solicited advice that’s often dished out when you’re feeling the blues? “Ah, you’ll be ok.” “Just snap out of it, lah.” Anyone diagnosed with depression would wish it was that easy!

But just how you can’t “think” away a broken bone, you cannot just think away your mental health.

“Depression is not related to willpower or attitude. You cannot just snap out of it. One just can’t “stop feeling sad” or “get over the depression”. At its core, depression is a psychological disorder involving changes in the brain’s neurochemistry,” says Consultant Psychiatrist & Geriatric Psychiatrist at Pantai Hospital KL, Dr Bharathi Vengadasalam.

“The person who dares to take the first step of seeking help is the one who’s incredibly brave. Getting help is never a sign of weakness, in fact, it displays a commitment to taking care care of one’s self. If it was as easy as using one’s sheer willpower, then the mental health field would not need to exist in the world!” says Serena In, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at The Mind Psychological Services and Training.

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