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Tuesday,July 14,2020
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Korea, Time to Get Over Depression
  South Korea is an unfortunate country, and Koreans are depressed. According to a Quality of Life Index published by a U.S. polling firm, South Korea ranked 75th among the 135 countries surveyed. This low ranking was partly due to indicators such as life goals, social relationships, perspective of economic conditions, safety, and pride in community. In this index, 86 percent of Koreans answered that they are “struggling” or “suffering” from trying to realize their life goals. Additionally, compared to the other 34 member countries of the OECD, South Korea ranked 33rd in the happiness index, 31st in the welfare satisfaction index, and last in the birth rate index. On the other hand, South Korea has had both the highest abortion rate and suicide rate among OECD countries for the last ten consecutive years, and is competing for the first place in several other negative indicators such as poverty rates for the elderly (1st), death rate in industrial accidents (1st), and annual labor hours (2nd).
  As many indexes and studies indicate, depression has already become a “national disease” in South Korea. It is a very critical disease; WHO has specified it as the cause of mental or judgmental disorders. There is a study stating that 60 to 80 percent of suicides are caused by depression. The number of depression patients has increased by 77 percent in the last ten years, and half of them admitted that they have thought about committing suicide. Furthermore, the rate of Koreans choosing extreme measures due to depression is overwhelmingly higher than in western countries. However, considering the specific features of depression in Korean patients, this depression is difficult to treat since the majority of cases are Melancholia type depression, which has the highest risk in attempting suicide. Additionally, patients who suffer from this type of disorder tend to avoid expressing their emotions.
  The bigger problem for Koreans with depression is that they never try to escape from it at all but continue to live with it. Based on the survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one out of ten people with depression had psychological consultation. The reason for not seeking treatment was social prejudice. Indeed, there are countless cases where people give up treatment for fear of having psychiatric therapy on their records.  
  Still, other factors, such as attempting to preserve dignity, getting “too involved” in the lives of family or others, and “controlling” others, prevent people with depression or misfortune from revealing their disease and receiving treatments. But the fact that South Korea is a depressed society is obvious, as various indexes demonstrate. Now, the government as well as the public must actively attempt to raise awareness and shift the culture to support people. Moreover, people should be recognized and have open attitude towards getting professional treatments and counseling to cure their depression.

Na Soo-hyun  suny93511@dongguk.edu

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