Depression leading cause of worldwide ill health

Tabitha Dunn
April 1, 2017

The WHO said investing in mental health makes economic sense and claims that for every U.S. dollar invested in better treatment for depression and anxiety, there is a return of 4 dollars in better health and ability to work. According to a WHO-led study, which calculated treatment costs and health outcomes in 36 low-, middle- and high-income countries for the 15 years from 2016-2030, low levels of recognition and access to care for depression and another common mental disorder, anxiety, result in a global economic loss of $1 trillion every year. This article shows an 18 per cent increase from 2005 to 2015 in what concerns depression.

"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 it deserves", Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said in a statement from the United Nations agency's Geneva headquarters.

Seventy-five percent of people with major depression in Europe are not receiving adequate treatment, and yet it is the second-largest contributor to disability or health loss and suicides in the region, according to the World Health Organisation.

Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO, said, "One of the steps is to address issues about prejudice and discrimination". This happens because of a lack of productivity, a stressful job, anxiety, people not being able to work so much, or not being able to pay for their health insurances. Mental health is integral to our well-being, and the growing incidence of mental health issues is a reflection of the reality that confronts us today, the WHO said.

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The WHO India office also spoke of the need to strengthen treatment structures.

WHO identifies clear links between depression and other mental and physical health problems. Other symptoms of depression include a lack of energy, a change in appetite and/or sleep habits, and others.

If helping out their fellow man doesn't convince health leaders to take depression seriously, doing so would also make economic sense, according to the WHO. Last year, the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) carried out a survey and said that one out of 20 Indians suffers from depression at some point in their life. "What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations in the world", she said.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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