Today is World Health Day and the World Health Organisation has highlighted depression as theme of this year’s World Health Day campaign. The WHO have identified depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. They estimate that over 300 million people are now living with depression – this is an increase of more than 18% since 2005.
Depression can affect anyone. Any age. From anywhere. It causes mental anguish and impacts daily life by hindering your ability to complete even simple everyday tasks. It impacts relationships, careers and its worst possible outcome is suicide – now the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds.
A depressive episode can be as mild, moderate or severe and depends on the number and severity of symptoms.
Recurrent depressive disorder: involves repeated depressive episodes. You may experience depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy leading to diminished activity for at least two weeks. Many people with depression also suffer from anxiety symptoms, disturbed sleep and appetite and may have feelings of guilt or low self-worth, poor concentration and even medically unexplained symptoms.
Someone with a mild depressive episode will have some difficulty in continuing with ordinary work and social activities, but will probably not cease to function completely. During a severe depressive episode, it is very unlikely that the sufferer will be able to continue with social, work, or domestic activities, except to a very limited extent.
Bipolar affective disorder: this type of depression typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem and a decreased need for sleep.
Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation and depression itself.
Effective treatments for depression exist however fewer than half of those suffering from depression in the world receive treatment. This figure plummets in regard to certain countries. This can be due to lack of trained health-care workers, social stigma, a lack of understanding about mental health and many other factors.
No matter the wealth of a country, people suffering from depression are often misdiagnosed. Either from it not being recognised, or people being incorrectly diagnosed and offered anti-depressants.
Treatment usually involves either a talking therapy or antidepressant medication or a combination of these:
• cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) including online CBT
• interpersonal therapy (IPT)
• behavioural activation
• psychodynamic psychotherapy
• behavioural couples therapy
• selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
• serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
• monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
• other antidepressants including anti-psychotics
Mind have a great resource for more information on treatments for depression here. If you think you may be suffering from depression, speak to your GP who will recommend the next steps.