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At the end of the day, the most important thing anyone experiencing depression is honesty.

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Over the last few weeks, a couple of segments on Philippine Noontime Television have awakened the general public's awareness on the seriousness of depression as an illness. These instances have triggered a national conversation over the effects and impacts caused by depression to various individuals. Most importantly, the advocacy on the promotion of mental health has been mainstreamed into the national consciousness as a result.

It is important for us to understand what depression is and how it affects an individual. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines depression as "a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one person feels, thinks and acts." In a study conducted by APA, one in every fifteen (1/15) adults experience depression in any given year, and one in every six people (1/6) are experiencing or have experienced depression at some point in their lives.

Depression has both physical and emotional manifestations such as breathing difficulties, changes in appetite, loss of interest in activities, and extreme sadness among others. If untreated, it could lead a person to demonstrate negative behaviors such as alcohol or drug addiction, or worse, commit suicide.

It is even quite surprising that despite advancements in technology, the tendency of people to experience depression has observably become higher today than in the past. While there is no empirical data to support this claim, it is important to note that suicide has recently become the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds, based on a World Health Organization study.

Today, depression is no longer just a state of mind. It is a reality that calls for a coordinated, concerted, and sustained action globally. In fact, a World Health Assembly Resolution was passed in May 2013, calling for a comprehensive response to mental disorders at country levels. While governments possess the ability to provide financial support and technological facilities to treat depression, families, communities, and interest sectors play an even greater role in helping individuals cope and overcome depression.

At the end of the day, the most important thing anyone experiencing depression needs to demonstrate is honesty. Honesty opens doors for assistance and treatment. Honesty also builds character, which is a person's most important asset in countering depression.
One should never be ashamed to admit he/she is going through depression. It is a sign of courage and bravery. It is also the first critical step to recovery.

The popular social media initiative, Project Semicolon “;”, is a sign which reminds us that there is hope for those who are suffering from depression. You are not alone in this battle. Depression is a battle which can be conquered, fought and won together!


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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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