Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, a report by WHO says. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
Depression is a common mental disorder and at its worst can lead to suicide. The report says that women are largely affected by depression than men. However, there are effective treatments for depression.
Depression is a mental disorder. It is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. But the long-lasting depression with moderate or severe intensity, may become a serious health condition.
It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
About 8 lakh people commit suicide due to depression every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
As per the report, effective treatments for depression are well known, but fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10 per cent) receive such treatments.
Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders.
Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.
The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally.
A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level.
Depression is one of the priority conditions covered by WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP).
The Programme aims to help countries increase services for people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders, through care provided by health workers who are not specialists in mental health.
The Programme asserts that with proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions of people with mental disorders, including depression, could begin to lead normal lives – even where resources are scarce.