Health Department says over 1 million teens likely suffering from depression


Bangkok – The Department of Mental Health has found up to 44 percent of Thai teens are at risk of clinical depression and estimates over 1 million of adolescents are contending with the condition.

Director-General of the Department of Mental Health, Squadron Leader Dr Boonruang Trairuangworawat, has disclosed that as many as 1 in 20 people globally are currently dealing with clinical depression, a disease he said that results in loss of life, output and social standing for sufferers and has a 50-70 percent risk of resurgence for those treated. The disease is a leading cause for teen suicide across the world and stops many from leading functional lives.

In Thailand, the department head revealed a study of citizens aged between 10 and 19 found up to 44 percent, or around 3 million people, are at risk of clinical depression and as much as 18 percent of the adolescent population, or over 1 million individuals, are suffering from the condition. He noted that most cannot access proper care because signs of depression in teens differ from those of adults, giving examples such as violent tendencies, self-harm, mood swings, isolation and risky behavior, which fools caretakers into believing the teen is simply acting out.

Dr Boonruang explained there are 4 groups mainly at risk from depression; they are those with a history of mental illness in their family, those with a chronic physical illness that is outwardly manifested, those experiencing social trauma and those in a less than optimal family situation.

The director-general said his office is developing tools to detect depression in teens, urged caretakers to have their children checked for signs of depression, suggested medicating those in need of psychological treatment and encouraged strengthening of family and school institutions to provide teens a support base for problem solving. He also stated there should be programs to watch out for and contend with clinical depression.