world health day 2017

World Health Day – 2017

April 7th is observed as the World Health Day. The theme set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2017 is “Depression : Let’s Talk”.

Depression is one of the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Over 50 million Indians suffered from depression, a major contributor to global suicides which occurred mainly in low and middle-income countries like India in 2015, a WHO study has said. Apart from this, over thirty million others suffered from anxiety disorders. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of social stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.

The new estimates have been released in the lead-up to World Health Day on 7th  April, the high point in WHO’s year-long campaign “Depression: let’s talk”. The overall goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.

Said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan: “These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approach 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.”

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder. Specifically, it is a mood disorder characterized by persistently low mood in which there is a feeling of sadness and loss of interest. However, depression is different from the fluctuations in mood that we all experience as a part of a normal and healthy life. Temporary emotional responses to the challenges of everyday life do not constitute depression. Similarly, even the feeling of grief resulting from the death of someone close is not itself depression if it does not persist for a long period.

Causes of Depression

Mental disorders comprise a complex mix of conditions and it is difficult to identify a constant pattern in their identification. Some of the factors that can lead to such a condition include:

  • Anxiety & stress disorders
  • Social anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Adjusting to a new culture, homesickness
  • Marital problems
  • Other family related problems
  • Alcoholism & drugs
  • Pregnancy & abortions
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Trauma related to accidents and other causes
  • Problems faced by students
  • Problems faced by elderly persons
  • Overcoming various phobias

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of depression can include: 

  • Depressed mood and general neglect of personal care
  • Reduced interest in activities enjoyed previously
  • Unexpected weight loss or low appetite
  • Difficulty in sleeping (insomnia) or excessive sleeping (hypersomnia)
  • Restlessness or slow movement and speech
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling of guilt or worthlessness
  • Worsened ability to think, concentrate or make decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide or attempt at suicide

What is theTreatment?

Depression is a treatable mental illness. However, it is important to seek the help of a health professional to rule out different causes of depression, ensure an accurate differential diagnosis, and secure a safe and effective treatment.

The most common treatment for depression includes a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy, also known as “talking therapy” or counseling is used to treat mild and moderate forms of depression. A licensed mental health professional helps people with depression focus on behaviors, emotions, and ideas that contribute to depression. They also help the depressed person identify and understand life problems that contribute to their illness in order to enable them to regain a sense of control. Psychotherapy can be done on an individual or group basis and can include family members and spouses. It is most often the first line of treatment for depression.

Medicines are also commonly used to treat depression. Your doctor can prescribe the medications or refer you to a psychiatrist, based on your symptoms. The cost of medicines and potential side effects are important considerations when choosing this type of treatment for depression.

Alternative treatments like acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic treatments, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage, and many others can sometimes provide relief to a patient. While some alternative treatments have become accepted as part of modern health care practice, others still have not been proven safe and effective.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women: Depression is more common in women than in men. Changes in mood with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), after childbirth, and following menopause are all linked with sudden drops in hormone levels can be treated through HRT.

Can depression come back?

Even when treatment is successful, depression can return. Psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medication can help prevent depression from coming back by correcting the beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors that contribute to your depression. If you do experience recurring symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help again.

What is the outlook?

The outlook for depressed people who seek treatment is very promising. By working with a qualified and experienced mental health care professional, you can regain control of your life and enjoy good overall health.

So, Let’s Talk…

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