Social media is “the new face of depression,” said Assistant Secretary of Health Enrique Tayag.
Social media serves as a way to connect with loved ones and build one’s self-esteem but online bashing may result in depression, the health official explained.
“Some people really have difficulty coping with bashing,” said Tayag.
The risk of depression has encouraged local researchers to begin studies on the relationship of social media and depression.
Tayag stressed that they need to put it in the local context because they cannot draw reliable conclusions based on global studies.
“The experts (who are conducting the local studies) are from associations of support groups to prevent suicide,” Tayag explained.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial urged students not to be ashamed to consult their guidance counselors when facing difficulties.
Mental illness has phases and it is best when identified at an early stage, she explained.
Ubial urged the public to seek help of a mental health provider in any case of change in a person’s routine.
She said that the first sign of depression if “they suddenly stop doing” a regular or favorite activity.
“Any deviation from the normal is a red flag,” Tayag added.
The public is encouraged to pay attention to their loved ones who show signs of depression.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines depression as a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.
Ubial said it is the biggest threat to mental health and is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds.
Data from the WHO showed an 18 percent increase in the number of depression cases worldwide in a span of ten years from about 280 million in 2005 to 322 million in 2015.
In the Philippines, about 3.29 million live with depression, according to DOH statistics.