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World Health Day 2017: Depression, Let’s talk

World Health Day 2017: Depression, Let’s talk
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World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7th April across the world. The day marks the beginning of World Health Organization (WHO). The aim of the day is to draw attention of the people towards important global health issues.

WHO or World health Organization, is a working body under the UN which deals with issues and emergencies related to health on a global scale. It was founded on 7th April 1948 in Geneva and there it was decided to celebrate the World Health Day annually on 7th of April. It was first celebrated globally in the year 1950. Ever since, WHO has come with a variety of themes for the Day.  Many events related to the theme are organized on the international and national level by the WHO. The theme of 2017 World Health Day is Depression, Let’s talk.

What is depression?

Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following symptoms: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

World Health Day 2017: Depression, Let’s talk

World Health Day

Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds.

Yet, depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help.

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Depression is a leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, and effects people of all ages, from all walk walks of life, in every country. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.

“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan.

The overall goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help. In high-income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression do not get treatment. On average, just 3 per cent of government health budgets is invested in mental health, varying from less than 1 per cent in low-income countries to 5 per cent in high-income countries. WHO has identified strong links between depression and other non-communicable disorders and diseases. 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. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-old people. But it can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help.

Tips on how to help depressed people

World Health Day

Living with someone with depression can be difficult. Here are some tips on what to do to help someone you live with who is depressed, while taking care of yourself at the same time.

What you should know  

  • Depression is an illness and not a character weakness.
  • Depression can be treated. What treatment is best and how long the depression lasts depend on the severity of the depression.
  • The support of carers, friends and family facilitates recovery from depression. Patience and perseverance is needed, as recovery can take time.
  • Stress can make depression worse.

What you can do for people who are depressed:

  • Make it clear that you want to help, listen without judgement, and offer support.
  • Find out more about depression.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help when available. Offer to accompany them to appointments.
  • If medication is prescribed, help them to take it as prescribed. Be patient; it usually takes a few weeks to feel better.
  • Help them with everyday tasks and to have regular eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Encourage regular exercise and social activities.
  • Encourage them to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
  • If they are thinking about self-harm, or have already intentionally harmed themselves, do not leave them alone. Seek further help from the emergency services or a health-care professional. In the meantime, remove items such as medications, sharp objects and firearms.
  • Take care of yourself too. Try to find ways to relax and continue doing things you enjoy.

Life changes which come with aging can lead to depression – to prevent and treat the elderly:

  • Depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
  • In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Depression among older people is often associated with physical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic pain; difficult life events, such as losing a partner; and a reduced ability to do things that were possible when younger.
  • Depression is treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.

This World Health Day let us take a pledge to fight all forms of mental disorders with the help of an arsenal of knowledge, love and understanding.

Inputs from WHO official data

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