Depression being the most common mental health disorder has become a major public health issue and has affected 322 million people globally (WHO, 2017). From 1990 to 2017, there has been a surge of 49.86% in the number of incident cases from 172 to 258 million (Liu et al., 2019). A chronic disease in numerous societies across the globe, depression, can lead the individual to lose interest in day-to-day activities, cause insomnia, impair the functioning and lead to suicidal thoughts or suicide at times, all of which affect the quality of life adversely (Cui, 2015). Additionally, patients with depression usually lose the will to reach out for treatment or don’t follow-up with the treatment making their condition worse. They also are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, morbidity and mortality (Seligman and Nemeroff, 2015).
Even though depression is a great concern and a critical public health issue worldwide, its complex pathogenesis is still poorly understood. Although a complex relation between the psychological, social, cultural and biological factors are known to contribute to depression (Menard et al., 2016). Depression has been identified as the single biggest factor contributing to disability and has led to the disability of 16% of the population globally (Liu et al, 2019).
According to WHO (2020a), depression is less common among males than in females, occurs at a higher rate in the older adults than children, adolescents and adults and also varies in different regions of the world. A few risk factors of depression have been recognised as genetic predisposition and unhealthy lifestyles such as alcohol consumption & smoking (Pavkovic et al., 2018). Depression is more likely to occur in patients suffering from comorbidities such as cancer, AIDS and depression also a neuropsychiatric consequence of stroke (Elbadawi & Mirghani, 2017).
The rate of depression and other mental illnesses is increasing all across the globe, however, it is more likely to occur in low-income countries (WHO, 2020). While individuals from all spheres of life have chances of developing depression, it is more likely to occur in individuals who have gone through major adversities in life like unemployment, loss of a dear one, divorce etc. Depression has the potential to increase dysfunction, anxiety and stress in one’s life and worsen the life of the individual.
There exist psychological and pharmacological treatments for depression with the involvement of a multidisciplinary team. The lack of medication adherence and therapy compliance, however, poses a problem for those seeking treatment for depression. The increasing awareness about depression has led to the advent of various institutes and settings that provide mental health services in the form of counselling sessions, therapeutic groups, social activities etc.
As a society it is essential to de-stigmatise depression and the people suffering from them should be supported so that they feel confident enough to reach out for help. Depression is a disorder that can severely affect the quality of life and has a possibility of ending in suicide if concrete interventions are not made. This makes depression a major cause of concern. Not only is there a dearth of policies and interventions but there is a lack of support and understanding from the friends, family, colleagues, seniors and the society as a whole.
In countries where there exist high rates of depression, the government should make efforts and direct funds towards relevant research to help recognise the underlying causes and take steps in the form of policies, strategies and health promotion to control the incidence of depression (Liu et al, 2019). By advocating the inclusion of exercise in the daily routine, cessation of smoking and reducing or stopping the consumption of alcohol, a healthy lifestyle can be promoted. An active approach to counter the occurrence of depression in patients with cancer, AIDS, stroke and other diseases should be adopted by extending support for mental healthcare and providing appropriate medication to prevent them from going in depression. Better efforts should be made towards medical and psychological support and interventions towards the individuals suffering from depression and suicide prevention protocol should be developed for them.
To significantly reduce the individual as well as public health burden of depression, efforts should be based upon acquiring information regarding the deficiencies in the system, the correlation between the disorder and the factors, clinical characteristics of the disorder and the scope for improvement (Avenevoli et al., 2015). This information can then be used to analyse the potential key areas where the researches, policies and strategies need major focus. Eventually, this can guide towards an agenda for mental health promotion in the form screenings, prevention resources and treatment plans.
Prevention programmes in the form of effective community approaches have shown to significantly minimize depression (WHO, 2020b). The National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement shows that 13-18 years of age is a critical time period for the onset of depression (Avenevoli et al., 2015). Hence, school-based programmes can help embed and enhance positive thinking in young children and adolescents. For parents of children with disabilities or behavioural problems, interventions and programmes may improve the results for the children by helping decrease the parental depressive symptoms.
Affiliation between the school and aged care homes, wherein the school children visit the elderly can help prevent the elderly from feeling lonely and depressed. Engaging the elderly in exercise programmes and social programmes can help them fight and prevent depression.
Depression is a disorder with high prevalence globally. It severely impacts the quality of life of the patient and leads to suicidal thoughts in severe cases. Depression has a strong association with cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and HIV. Psychological and pharmacological treatment for depression exist. Society is judgemental towards individuals with depression and other mental disorders which can prevent them from reaching out for treatment. Research, strategies, policies and funding towards depression, its causes, treatment and prevention are vital and efforts need to be made for these. Prevention programmes prove to be successful in minimising the prevalence of depression.
Avenevoli, S., Swendsen, J., He, J.P., Burstein, M. & Merikangas, K. R. (2015). Major depression in the national comorbidity survey–Adolescent supplement: Prevalence, correlates, and treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(1), 37–44.
Cui, R. (2015). A systematic review of depression. Current Neuropharmacology, 13(4), 480-481.
Elbadawi, A. & Mirghani, H. (2017). Depression among HIV/AIDS Sudanese patients: a cross-sectional analytic study. The Pan African Medical Journal, 26, 43-45
Liu, Q., He, H., Yang, J., Feng, X., Zhao, F., & Lyu, J. (2019). Changes in the global burden of depression from 1990 to 2017: Findings from the global Burden of disease study. Journal of Psychiatric Research,126, 134-140.
Menard, C., Hodes, G.E. & Russo, S.J. (2016). Pathogenesis of depression: insights from human and rodent studies. Neuroscience, 321, 138-162.
Pavkovic, B., Zaric, M., Markovic, M., Klacar, M., Huljic, A. & Caricic, A. (2018) Double screening for dual disorder, alcoholism and depression. Psychiatry Research, 270, 483-489.
Seligman, F. & Nemeroff, C.B. (2015). The interface of depression and cardiovascular disease: therapeutic implications. Annals of the New York of Academy Sciences, 1345, 25-35.
WHO. (2017). Depression and other common mental disorders. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254610/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pd
WHO. (2020a). Depression. https://www.who.int/health-topics/depression#tab=tab_1
WHO. (2020b). Depression. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression
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