Pinays in US shares experience with depression

By Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jun 07 2014 08:12 AM | Updated as of Jun 07 2014 04:12 PM

LAS VEGAS - There’s a stigma that comes with mental health disorder. People who suffer from it often also feel discriminated.

Experts have cited social isolation, poor housing, family pressure, and unemployment as common contributing factors of depression that lead to mental illness.

Yayo Alberto has been working as a psych nurse. She never thought that she herself would suffer from depression.

"It's so hard to come out. They feel ashamed, saying they might be judge. But I'll tell you an honest story, I actually got diagnosed with major depression a year ago," she said.

Alberto said it was because she was going through a lot of stress.

"The burn out factor. I was working three jobs. I was going back and forth doing everything I can. It was really hard. You just have to find that strength to pull yourself together," Alberto said.

Alberto added that she was able to overcome the most difficult situations in her life fighting depression without any help from medication.

"Don't be shy to seek out for help. Don't be shy to express yourself because you don't want to give up on yourself. You never wanna give up on yourself because there are so many things out there to be thankful for. There's so many things out there that lifts you up. There so many things out there in the world that has been taken away from people. Sometimes, we feel oh, how come we don't have this? But if you look at it, there are other people who are suffering more than you are but they are still smiling, They are still thankful,” she said.

Another Filipina, who wished to conceal her identity, said she was so depressed at one point in her life and had wanted to kill herself.

"Kasi dumating na rin sa akin yun na i-try to kill myself kasi hindi mo na alam ang gagawin mo. Wala kang ibang lakas ng loob na kundi mag dasal, tapos makikita mo pa, lalo na nung nagka anak pa ako ng [may] down syndrome, para akong pinagbagsakan ng langit at lupa," she said.

Dr. Rhigel Tan, a clinical psychologist said mental illness is the same as physical illness.

"There's a lot of factors why it's like that. One factor is the chemical imbalance and the genetic factor of it. I always tell this to my patient. A diabetic is a chemical imbalance that causes the blood sugar to be out of control. A manic depressive or a bipolar is also a chemical imbalance. If we really accept with open arms the diabetic and we give insulin, what's the difference with the chemical imbalance that we try to balance out affects our mood,” explained Dr. Tan.

Dr. Tan added that the challenge among Asian Americans, especially Filipinos, is to speak up and seek help as many are bound by strong family ties and cultural beliefs about keeping appearances and saving face.

"In mental health, trying to seek help from outside force maybe viewed as a weakness so that's why many of them, they don't even go for help. There are even patients that people tends to label, you know, they are loco, they have mental illness and they don't know how to handle their lives and that actually prevents somebody from seeking help because of that,” he said.

Studies have shown that Asian American women have higher suicide rates than the national average compared to non-Asians.

But with proper treatment, most symptoms of mental health can be controlled. If the possibility of mental health disorder is a concern for you or someone you care about, there is no shame in seeking treatment.