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World Health Day 2017 - "Depression: Let's Talk"

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Highlights:
  • World Health Day is observed on April 7th to raise awareness on health and well-being.
  • The World Health Organization has declared 'Depression' as the theme for this year's World Health Day.
  • Depression is a mental disorder which is curable and should not be considered as weakness.
The World Health Day is an annual event held on April 7th to raise awareness on a specific health topic. This year, the focus is on depression, a matter of concern to people all over the world. The day marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). The theme of the World Health Day 2017 is "Depression: Let's Talk."
World Health Day 2017 - "Depression: Let's Talk"

Depression: Let's Talk

Depression is a mental disorder, which is one of the leading causes of illness and disability worldwide. According to the WHO, depression is defined as an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that one normally enjoys, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for at least two weeks.

Depression is more prevalent in urban areas than rural areas. Some of the causes of depression are stress, time pressure, work pressure, illness and relationship issues.

Currently, more than 300 million people are living with depression. The number of people with depression has increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015. People suffering from depression do not access mental health treatment due to lack of support and fear of stigma. Thus, the goal of the theme "Depression: Let's talk" is to get people with depression to seek help.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, said, "These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves."

"One of the first steps is to address issues around prejudice and discrimination. The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let's talk," said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

"For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery."

People with depression find it difficult to come forward for help, and people around them also fail to recognize it. The WHO wants to create awareness about depression and for those with depression, they are not alone, many others are also struggling with the same condition.

Support for People with Depression

In the past ten years, the number of cases of depression has surged by nearly 20%. To reduce the global prevalence of depression, WHO has come up with some suggestions
  • Increase investment for people with mental health disorder
  • Scale up programs that provide treatment for depression and other mental disorders
  • Funds for research on mental health to facilitate better services
  • Trained health workers for better mental health care
Better Finances for Mental Health

In developing countries, there is little or no support available for people with depression. About 50% of the people living in developed countries do not get treatment for depression. On an average, only 3% of government health budget is invested in mental health.

Increasing investment in mental health can lead to treatment for depression and anxiety which in turn can improve health and the ability to work. Mental illness remains a taboo because people are reluctant to seek help for psychiatric illnesses.

Health Risks Associated with Depression

Depression is linked to other non-communicable diseases and disorders. Depression can increase the risk of substance abuse and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It is also an important risk factor for suicide. People with depression have some of the symptoms like change in appetite, reduced concentration, sleeping less or more, fatigue, feelings of guilt and hopelessness and thoughts of self-harm. Treatment for depression involves talk therapy or antidepressant medication or a combination of the two.

Dr Saxena, said "A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated, while essential, is just the beginning. What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations in the world."

Depression in India

India doesn't have enough psychiatrists to treat people with depression, especially in rural areas. Urbanization has also increased the prevalence of depression in the country. From rural areas, people have moved to the cities, which has changed their lifestyle. Physical activity has reduced, and work pressure and stress have increased, contributing to depression.

Facts on Depression
  • Depression has been predicted to become a top health hazard by 2020
  • More than five crore Indians, a gross 4.5% of the population suffers from depression
  • Women are more likely to suffer from depression than men
  • One out of 4 children between the ages of 13 and 15 years suffer from depression
  • Urbanization has increased depression by 20%
Tips to Deal with Depression
  • Seek professional help by consulting a health care worker or a doctor.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay connected with loved ones
  • Restrict alcohol and refrain from illicit drugs
  • Eat healthy by avoiding junk foods
  • Sleep for at least 7 hours
References:
  1. Handouts on depression - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/world-health-day/en/)
  2. "Depression: let's talk" says WHO, as depression tops list of causes of ill health - (http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/handouts-depression/en/)
  3. World Health Day 2017 - (http://www.searo.who.int/india/mediacentre/events/world_health_day/whd_2017/en/)
Source: Medindia

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