Actress Choi Jinsil's death highlighted, among other things, the inadequacy of Korean approach for mental illness, particularly depression. On that theme, Dong-A Ilbo reports that nearly 80 percent of depression patients in Korea stop taking anti-depressants within three months without consulting their doctors. Amazingly, 53 percent of the patients decide to stop the treatment after only one month, although anti-depressants generally require 6 months to take effect. This rate is two to three times higher than depression patients in Europe.
The article cites the prejudice against mental patients as one of the leading causes of patients' stopping the treatment. One of the examples given in the article is that of Mr. Kim, age 30, who developed depression while searching for a job. After seeing some improvement after one month of treatment, Mr. Kim stopped treatment against the doctor's advice for fear that the history of depression treatment would hinder finding a job. He returned to the doctor 6 months later, with stronger symptoms of depression.
In the last two or three years, the Korean has observed Korean society's attempt to change the public perception of depression. However, clearly more work could be done.
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