Sit down and let’s talk — talk about depression. In a news release from the World Health Organization last month, global depression rates have increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015. Depression is a mental health condition that affects individuals of all races, socioeconomic statuses, ethnicities, sexual orientations and genders.
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, depression is a mood disorder characterized by a loss of interest in normal activities and a persistent feeling of sadness lasting a minimum of two weeks. This can lead to impairments in feelings, thoughts and behaviors. The condition is linked to a wide variety of symptoms, including anxiety, difficulty thinking, hopelessness, appetite changes, fatigue, abnormal sleep patterns, tearfulness and agitation. Depression has also been found to have negative affects on physical health with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Additionally, depression is the most common underlying disorder linked to suicide.
The WHO has been running a year-long campaign, “Depression: let’s talk,” to increase awareness, help-seeking behavior and resources for sufferers. At this time, about one in two individuals with depression do not reach out for assistance. One factor of this startling statistic is the negative stigma surrounding the disease. Sufferers are less willing to open up given the fear of being looked down upon and misunderstood. Nobody should have to fear whether or not a family member or friend will develop negative opinions if he or she asks for help.
Another area for improvement is the amount of resources available. The WHO states that the average percentage of government health budgets dedicated towards depression is only 3%. The range is 1% in low-income countries to 5% in high-income countries. Given that depression is the leading cause of illness and disability in the world, this percentage must increase to met the serious need. The problem does not lie in the effectiveness of investment. Rather, statistics shows that for every US$1 that is invested in depression, there is a return of US$4.
If investment does not increase, economic effects will continue to be felt at the individual and population levels. Without help, individuals with depression are less able to hold stable employment and are less productive at work. In turn, employers get less return on their investment in the employee. Governments must be able provide more economic support to the sufferers. Therefore, an increase in depression resources is a more proactive, beneficial and sustainable solution.
Let’s all do our part — let’s talk. Challenge any potential biases you have, whether conscious or subconscious. Educate yourself on the topic. Advocate for those you love with depression. If you believe you or someone you know may have depression, visit Mental Health America to seek help and connect to the proper resources.
Until next time,