A regime’s legacy

A regime’s legacy

Many of us go through short periods of sadness or loneliness. They can be the result of a death, a relationship break-up, the loss of a job and substance abuse.

But when feelings of sadness and being unable to cope and live a normal life set in, it is possible that people have what is known as a major depressive disorder (MDD), also called clinical depression and commonly referred to simply as depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that depression is a mental state or chronic mental disorder characterised by feelings of sadness, loneliness, despair and hopelessness.

Physical signs and symptoms may include a lack of energy, appetite changes, sleeping problems and unexplained aches and pains.

Depression is estimated to affect 350 million people, making it the most common mental disorder worldwide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that depression will be the biggest cause of the global burden of disease by 2030.

Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime endured forced labour and starvation, witnessed the executions of family members and, as a result, have been traumatised by this experience.

A study by the intercultural psychiatric program, at Oregon Health and Science University, reported the survivors felt overwhelmed and helpless, and displayed avoidance behaviour.

“I don’t want to talk about the past,” many survivors of the genocidal regime say.

Recurring nightmares are common among survivors. Many Cambodian men still fight the Khmer Rouge in their sleep and cry out to ghosts every night.

Many can still picture gruesome images of their babies', parents' and husbands’ bodies cut up, with their organs hanging out. Chronic mental illness has affected these Cambodian survivors.

In addition, the spiritual aspects of unpaid debts have attributed to feelings of depression. As Buddhists, they believe that if you die in debt, you will be reincarnated in a lower life form.

During the dry season, farmers are not able to produce enough food and run up debts that cannot be paid. Families end up losing their houses or land or whatever else they used for collateral, and depression kicks in.

Cambodian culture differs from Western culture, as Cambodians, especially men, are not accustomed to discussing their feelings and opening up.

Cambodians are reluctant to talk about their experiences and related illnesses.

But getting the support you need from family and friends plays a big role in fighting depression.

With technical support from the WHO and other partners and donors, the Ministry of Health has declared mental health a priority.

It’s okay to seek professional help in dealing with this serious illness.

The TPO Treatment Centre, in Phnom Penh, helps men, women and children seek treatment for mental and emotional health problems.

Trained counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses provide services dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other mental-health needs.

For more information about TPO, please call +855 (0) 23 63 66 991.

The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,