Number of young Thais with major depressive disorder increasing – DOMH

Thailand’s Department of Mental Health expressed concern on Wednesday (June 12) that the number of Thai teenagers and young adults suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) is on the increase, citing the fact that youths aged from 11-25 years old accounted for 13,658 out of a total 40,635 cases calling its mental health hotline in the first half of this year.

Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrachit, the department director-general, said that MDD is an important mental health issue because it cannot be completely cured, and those who do not receive proper treatment tend to end their lives in tragedy and suicide.

Dr. Kiattiphum reported that, in 2017, 4.94 in every 100,000 Thai youths aged 20-24 had committed suicide. The number increased to 5.33 in 100,000 in 2018. This statistic is in line with data from the department’s 1323 hotline that shows a rapid increase in the number of calls from younger people.

The director-general revealed that, in 2018, the hotline took 70,534 calls in total, of which 10,298 cases were from teens aged 11-19 (14.6%) and 14,173 are calls from youths aged 20-25 (20.1%). He said that the majority of the cases were to do with stress, anxiety, depression and family problems.

“When we tried to categorize the cases, we found that the proportion of teens and youths having problems with stress, anxiety, relationships, depression, MDD and thoughts of ending their lives, is increasing.” Dr. Dr. Kiattiphum said.

He went on to explain that there are several causes of MDD, but it basically involves an imbalance in the neurotransmitters, which are chemical substances that assist different parts in the brain to communicate and regulate the mood.

Other factors contributing to depression are issues concerning the economy, finance, disappointment and the loss of loved ones. If not properly addressed, the problems will develop into stress, anxiety and, finally, MDD leading to suicide, he said.

The symptoms of MDD are feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, irritability, frustration, recklessness, sleeping disorders and suicidal thoughts, Dr. Kiattiphum explained.

He urged all concerned to help prevent the rising trend of youths with MDD by reaching out to them, listening to their stories attentively and connecting them with support mechanisms.

He also encouraged society to care for college students with depression. If they exhibit signs of uneasiness, sadness, emptiness and hopelessness, being late or skipping classes, decreases in performance or sleeping in classes, they should be taken to seek advice from adults, close friends and family, or they can call the department of mental health hotline 24 hours at 1323.


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