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WHO Names Depression As Leading Cause Of Sickness And Disability, Calls For Urgent Action

1 April 2017, 4:07 pm EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
The World Health Organization names depression as the world's leading cause of sickness and disability, and calls for urgent action on mental health.   ( Christopher Furlong | Getty Images )

World Health Day is on April 7, and the World Health Organization has released a new statement on a slow and silent killer around the world that many are struggling to deal with- Depression.

Between the stigma and the prejudice surrounding the disorder, and the lack of funding for the treatment and recovery of patients, depression has turned into a silent killer that tops the list of the world's causes of serious illnesses.

Depression

As of February this year, over 300 million people are living with depression worldwide, which is an 18 percent increase between the years of 2005 and 2015. WHO's initiative for World Health Day "Depression: let's talk" which is also a year-long campaign for the organization, aims to encourage all the people around the world living with depression to go out and seek the help and support that they need.

What's more, the organization also aims to remove the stigma and prejudice surrounding the mental disorder, something that stops many who are living with the disorder to shy away from seeking help until it is too late or have already done serious damage to their overall health.

"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, WHO's Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in a press release.

WHO also impresses the importance of investing in mental health support and the consequences of failing to do so, especially in low-income countries where there is little to no support for mental health facilities.

What's The Threat?

A major contributor to the stigma surrounding depression is the ignorance about just how debilitating depression can be. Depression is a fairly common mental disorder that afflicts people of all ages, with more women affected than men and can lead a person to completely cease from functioning in society. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

Apart from the more obvious effects of depression such as lack of interest and energy, anxiety, disturbed sleep, and lack of appetite, depression can also lead to serious physical damage to a depressive person if left untreated. For instance, depression has been found to lead to cardiovascular diseases and vice versa.

There are different methods of diagnosis and treatments for depression such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), but WHO still advises medical practitioners to be very careful when treating their patients.

As such, there are ways to treat depression and help a depressive person to fully function and live full lives and WHO is continuous in their work, aiding countries in increasing their mental health services.

 

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