Depression and Anxiety: Mental Health Conditions Not to Be Belittled

October 6, 2021

Long-term stress and anxiety can easily lead to depression. In recent years, depression has become a common illness with an increasing number of younger patients suffering from these conditions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated five percent of adults suffer from depression.

Depression is said to be a leading cause of disability worldwide and contributes to the overall global burden of disease. Statistics also show that there are more women than men affected by depression. Depression can lead to suicide, but there are effective treatments for mild, moderate, and severe depression.

Cheryl Tham Sin Yi, a lecturer and clinical psychologist of International Medical University with Dr Yong Yii Pin from Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, INTI International University.

INTI International University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences held a virtual symposium titled Prevent and Treat Depression and Anxiety on 31 July 2021. A line-up of speakers from different backgrounds came together to share their knowledge on the topic.


According to Cheryl Tham Sin Yi, a lecturer and clinical psychologist at International Medical University said clinical depression (major depressive disorder) is a feeling of persistent unhappiness for days and it is not a sign of weakness which one simply “gets over with”. 

There are 2 types of possible signs and symptoms of clinical depression. “Physical, emotional, and cognitive are the possible signs and symptoms that indicate whether someone is suffering from clinical depression or not. If you detect the signs and symptoms of depression, it is perhaps to give you an indication or call for attention.

“Insomnia, changes in appetite or weight, moving or speaking slower, loss of energy or fatigue are the physical possible signs and symptoms. Moods such as feeling sad, blue, down and so on, loss of interest or pleasure in activities and others are the emotional and cognitive signs and symptoms,” Cheryl said.

Healing From Depression 

Recovering from depression is full remission that lasts for a defined period; the end of an episode of the illness but not the end of the illness itself. Dr Chan Siaw Leng, a senior lecturer of Psychology and Counselling from Universiti Putra Malaysia, Bintulu, Sarawak, shared that depression is like a fever. If we have a fever, we will take medication, he said. After recovering, it does not mean that we will no longer get a fever.

Healing is a remission for that defined period rather than the whole period, for example, the patients must not present any physical symptoms then I can say that he or she has recovered.

“Each unique personal growth process and contributor are interconnected throughout the healing journey and may facilitate fresh start experiences to improve the chance of remission and increase recovery in depression. Understanding and utilizing people’s strengths and resources can also aid them in their recovery,” said Dr Chan Siaw Leng.

A photo of the Q&A session during the online symposium organised by the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences titled Prevent and Treat Depression and Anxiety.

Qi Gong Therapy for Mental Health

Liu Zi Jue (six healing sounds), a kind of Qigong, combines breathing exercises of six different sounds, namely Chui, Hu, Xi, He, Xu, and Si, mind control, as well as slow and gentle physical movement to promote mind–body health and to extend lifespan.

Dr Yeoh Beng And, a senior lecturer at INTI International University, mentioned that the routine strengthens the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys, thus helping to balance the energy and functions of the internal organs, and has also been shown to have a calming effect and to alleviate stress.

“Both legs and knees should be shoulder width apart, head and neck facing front, relax the shoulder, loosen the waist and hip, slightly bend the knee and relax the body. Breathe naturally, this is the ready stance of Liu Zi Jue,” she added.

Different sounds may have different functions. For example, Xū, or deep sigh or hiss, regulates the liver Qi and calms anger. Hē, or yawn or laughing sound, regulates the mind and improves sleep, while Hū, a sigh or exhale, regulates spleen stomach movement, clear thoughts and strengthens Qi blood and others.

Music Therapy for Mental Health

Music therapy is a clinical, reflexive, and research-based use of music as intervention by a credentialed or licensed music therapist to realise individualized goals through musical and professional therapeutic relationships. 

“Music therapy is not sound healing, not listening to one’s favourite music, white noise or nature sounds and also not volunteer musicians or medical personnel who play music for patients,” Kuek Ser Sheen Tse, a music therapist from A Sound Space Music Therapy shared. 

According to Kuek Ser Sheen Tse, there are 4 types of interventions in music therapy. They are receptive music therapy (listening to a song), composition (writing a song), recreative (playing or singing a song) and improvisation (which is playing spontaneously at the moment).

There are many other types of effective treatment for depression. While mental health conditions are no joking matter, various treatments can be used to help those suffering.