According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people all over the world are trying to overcome those long-term blues known as “depression.” As a matter of fact, the WHO says that this is the leading cause of poor health and disability shared by all communities circling the globe; at least, as described in the WHO’s latest World Health Day report estimates.
WHO Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Dr. Shekhar Saxena, has reported that the number of people suffering from depression around the world has increased by 18 percent over the past ten years. He theorizes the reason for this includes, of course, a bigger global population, but also that more people are in the “middle-age” than ever before; and depression is more common among middle-aged and elderly people (than any other age demographic in the community).
Furthermore, Dr. Saxena warns that depression can be quite an insidious and severe disease; it can afflict people in a variety of ways. He describes that people who are depressed are often not able to work or study, do not look forward to simple, day-to-day activities or social interaction. He attests that depression is responsible for “absenteeism as well as presentism which is actually when the person is on the job but cannot perform as well.”
Of course, the most severe and extreme ways that depression can sneak into a person’s life is how it evolves into thoughts of suicide. Dr. Saxena warns that while not all suicides are caused by depression (suicide can be a result of anxiety, fear, stress, etc), depression is one of the leading risk factors for suicide.
Most importantly, perhaps, he advises that the global response to depression appears to be “much smaller than it should be,” and this is true in both high-income and low-income countries. He explains that this low response rate is often a result of the stigmatization of people who suffer from depression but also that many who are experiencing it may not actually realize it is a diagnosable—and treatable—condition.
Indeed, Dr. Saxena makes sure to point out that even though the condition can sometimes be quite severe, “depression can be treated, so early identification is important,” noting also that both medical and psychological/emotional therapies—typically in some combination—are the best treatment tools we have to fight depression.