Depression is not as uncommon as thought and affects more than 4 percent of the global population. The mental condition, if not treated in time may lead to physical and mental disabilities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released some figures pertaining to depression on Thursday, Feb. 23. The figures suggest that depression is now the leading cause of physical and mental disabilities worldwide.

"You can see one in 20 people in the world have it and then it has quite a high level of impairment or disability associated with it," said Dan Chisholm, Health System Adviser at WHO,.

Depression More Likely To Affect Women

The report suggests that the ailment affects 2 percent more women - between the ages of 55 and 74 - when compared to men in the same age bracket. It was also observed that women were more susceptible to depression when compared to their male counterparts.

A year-long campaign named "Depression: Lets Talk" was conducted by WHO in October 2016, with the purpose of emphasizing the problems associated with depression. The awareness campaign involved three categories of people: young, pregnant and new mothers, as well as the elderly, who comprised the largest group.

The campaign report notes that suicide abetted by depression was the second leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year olds globally. It also aimed at creating awareness about post- and pre-natal depression in pregnant women, encouraging them to talk about the same to health officials. The WHO states that around 15 percent of pregnant women tend to suffer from acute depression.

The illness was seen more in the elderly as they tend to be isolated from the community with growing age and passage of time.

Statistics Supporting Study

According to the reports, corresponding data reveals that more than 260 million people were affected with anxiety disorders, which accounts for more than 3 percent of the global population.

Additionally, in 2015, more than 4 percent of the population was observed to be living with depression. It incurred an 18 percent increase over a period of 10 years.

WHO's Response To Depression          

The WHO's Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) has been considering cases of depression as a priority.

It provides services in countries for people with mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders. These services are provided by health workers.

The programme emphasizes on the fact that with proper care and assistance millions of people suffering from mental disorders such as depression can begin leading normal lives. 

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