By Honor Blanco Cabie
At the prayer meeting of Rosenda and her religion group within their parish that weekend afternoon, some of her friends noticed she appeared without her usual happy demeanor.
At home that night, Rosenda, just turned senior citizen, asked her husband to keep the pair of scissors and other pointed materials away from their room.
She had been visibly put down by side effects of some of her prescribed medicines – insomnia, muscle pains, palpitation, drowsiness, dizziness, depression, tingling sensation, vertigo, among others.
Months back, after typhoon Ondoy hit their subdivision and the filthy floodwaters surged into their receiving room without as much notice, she started asking questions, getting in and out of hospital at least 10 times since.
There was sadness in her manners, but she thought she was fine.
Everything was normal, according to the result of her executive checkup – except a rising level in her triglycerides and cholesterol.
She had gone to an endocrinologist, an internist, a cardiologist, a neurologist. And they were unanimous, separately, in telling her everything was normal and manageable, including her glucose level.
She felt like crying. She wanted attention. She felt like she was down in the dumps.
When her three grandsons rush to her lap, watched from the sidelines by her granddaughter who was giving way to the younger ones, she would feel lifted up.
Then she would feel tired again.
She could not believe she was being slowly eaten up by depression, a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being.
There are no official figures on how many Filipinos are to date affected by depression. But many medical experts say this is causing some concern in the field.
Medical experts say depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, worried, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless.
They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable; experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide.
The experts add insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present.
Experts say the burden of mental illnesses, like depression, alcohol dependence and schizophrenia, “has been seriously underestimated by traditional approaches that take account only of deaths and not of disability.”
A medical research published in the United States in 2008 suggested that depression and diabetes are a potentially lethal mix among young to middle-aged patients.
The study also indicated that depression is as well a risk factor for mortality in older patients with diabetes. Medical experts say feeling sad, down, or discouraged are natural human emotions, reactions to the hassles and hurdles of life.
But she was glad she had the awareness that night and told her husband to get sharp blades out of her reach, the first time such strong mood tried to overwhelm her.
She had cooked her husband’s favorite dinner dish that night, but she could not understand why she felt drained of energy, motivation and concentration.