Depression Considered A Global Epidemic
October 10, 2012

World Mental Health Day To Raise Public Awareness About Mental Health Issues

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Today is World Mental Health Day, and to raise public awareness about mental health issues the World Health Organization (WHO ) released startling information on depression throughout the world. WHO discovered that over 350 million people around the world are affected by depression. The disease is now considered a “global phenomenon.”

Health experts believe that no country is immune from depression, with approximately five percent of the world affected by the disorder at least once in a calendar year.

"It is not a disease of developed countries, it is a global phenomenon. It's present in both genders and in rich and poor populations," said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, head of the WHO's mental health and substance abuse department, in an article by the AFP news agency.

In particular, depression is believed to be much more than intense feelings of sadness that last weeks upon weeks and create problems at home, school or work. According to Saxena, women are depressed more often than men, with a 50 percent gap in the number of females versus males affected by the disease. In particular, women can experience post-partum depression following giving birth. Post-partum depression impacts one in five mothers in first-world countries.

Furthermore, researchers at WHO noted that there is a direct relationship between the number of people who are depressed and the number of people who commit suicide. Almost one million people commit suicide every year, and over half the cases are related to feelings of depression. However, the study noted that depression was not only the root cause of people taking their lives.

"Depression has existed for centuries, the news is, we're not doing anything about it," continued Saxena in the AFP article.

The team of investigators recommended that people suffering from depression seek help. As well, friends and family should be aware if a particular individual is expressing symptoms of depression; many times, people feel that there is a stigma to depression and will not obtain the necessary resources or treatment. Apart from close family and friends, WHO advocates that health professionals work to diagnose depression in patients, especially young children and adolescents who are normally not thought to be affected by the illness.

For people who are suffering from depression, one option would be to talk to others about their feelings. There are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions and depressed individuals can benefit from working with a psychologist or a mental health counselor. In psychotherapy sessions, individuals have the opportunity to speak about particular issues and gain a better understanding of the causes of depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals can also seek mediations from a primary care doctor. There are different types of antidepressants available and they are organized based on the effectiveness of the drugs on naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. Patients will respond to various medications differently so it´s important to realize that it will take trial and error. If there are negative side effects that come about from using a particular medication, individuals are recommended to speak to the doctor. Generally, an effective treatment plan includes both medication and psychotherapy.

"It should not be taken for granted that depression means taking pills," concluded Saxena in the statement.