Depression “Lets Talk”
As the world is celebrating world healthy today, under the theme “depression – let’s talk”. Many people are unaware of consequences and effects of depression.
In South Africa, people who are suffering from depression are afraid to come out and seek treatment because of stigma and discrimination they will face from the family and community at large.
Some specifically in Africa they consult witch doctors, herbalist for help instead of seeking medical treatment at established institutions.
Depression (clinical depression or depressive disorder) is a major contributor to the worldwide burden of disease and affects people in all communities across the world.
Depression is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for a longer period. Moreover, depression often comes with symptoms of anxiety.
Dr. Jo Borrill of Clinical Research Manager, Mental Health Foundation describes depression as a range of moods – from low spirits to a severe problem that interferes with everyday life.
The condition is an overwhelming feeling that makes you feel unable to cope in life and thinking hopeless about the future.
People suffering from depression normally have several of the following symptoms such as a change in appetite, sleeping more, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide
It is important to note that symptoms of depression they vary from age, gender etc.
In a survey carried out in 17 countries by the World Mental Health Survey, the organization found that an average of 1 in 20 people is suffering from depression and about 350 million, people in the world suffer from depression.
Furthermore, in a report issued out by World Health Organization (WHO) state that one million lives have lost yearly due to depression, which translates to 3000 suicide deaths every day. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end his or her life.
“Depression is also an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year,” said the Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO Dr Shekhar Saxena
With these alarming figures, WHO has embarked on an awareness campaign to encourage governments to re-think their approach to mental illness.
Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease; the opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression.
However, they are some specific types of depression that have been identified in the past years such persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postnatal depression
- Persistent depressive disorder also called dysthymia
The symptoms of this depression are depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and increased fatigability. A person suffering from persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years in order to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
- Bipolar affective disorder
This typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder means that you have both ‘high’ and ‘low’ mood swings, along with changes in thoughts, emotions and physical health. This is also referred to as manic episodes, it involves elevated mood and increased energy, resulting in over-activity, pressure of speech and decreased need for sleep
- Postnatal depression
Many mothers have ‘the baby blues’ soon after the birth of their baby, but it usually passes after a day or two. Postnatal depression is a much more serious problem and can occur anytime between two weeks and two years after the birth. (See Understanding postnatal depression.) • Bipolar disorder (manic depression)
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
This is seasonal depression, which is related to day length. It usually comes on in the autumn and winter, when days are short and the sun is low in the sky and gets better as the days get longer and brighter.
However, it is important to note that depression is a curable mental condition; even the most severe cases are can be treated. The earlier treatment begins the more effective it is.
Depression can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.
Most people see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with these above medical treatments.
Antidepressants can be a very effective form of treatment for moderate-severe depression but are not the first line of treatment for cases of mild or sub-threshold depression.
Many doctors recommend self-help as an important approach to help people with depression.
“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,” said Dr. Saxena said that: