Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds.

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) focuses on a universal health issue on World Health Day, which is observed around the world today. This year, WHO has chosen to focus on depression for World Health Day.

WHO reports that the cost of lost productivity in the workplace due to depression and anxiety is very high. For the United States, it is an estimated $1 trillion each year. WHO also estimates that $1 invested in treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in better health and ability to work, be productive, and lead better quality life.

Most people with depression and anxiety don’t seek treatment. Yet, depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help.

Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following symptoms: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Depression can affect anyone, at any age, sex, or social status. Three groups of people are disproportionally affected: adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth), and older adults (over 60 years of age).
  • Depression is a common mental disorder that affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries.
  • The risk of becoming depressed is increased by poverty, unemployment, life events such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use.
  • Depression causes mental anguish and can impact on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends.
  • Untreated depression can prevent people from working and participating in family and community life. At worst, depression can lead to suicide.
  • Depression can be effectively prevented and treated. Treatment usually involves either a talking therapy or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
  • Overcoming the stigma often associated with depression will lead to more people getting help.
  • Talking with people you trust can be a first step towards recovery from depression.

RESOURCES:

World Health Organization http://www.who.int/en/

Suicide Prevention http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 1-800-273-8255

World Health Day WHO  http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/world-health-day/en/

Depression and Mental Health Screening Tools http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

Anxiety and Depression Association of America Screening tool https://www.adaa.org/iving-with-anxiety/ask-and-learn/screenings/screening-depression

WebMD Depression http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20170331/depression-who

VOA News http://www.voanews.com/a/who-depression-statistics/3737024.html

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