Wednesday the 10th of October marked the World Mental Health Day. Mental health day has been commemorated for 20 years now since its first inception in 1992. The theme for this year commemoration was “Depression; A global crisis.” The selection of the theme is clearly relevant looking at the dynamics of the world disease burden. According to the World Health Organization, depression constitutes 10 % of neuropsychiatric disorders with neuro-psychiatric disorders making 28 % of the global disease burden. It is estimated that in 2020, depression will be second to cardiovascular disease and accounting for 15% of the global disease burden.
The statistics highlighted above paints a gloomy picture of what we have at hand and further posits non-communicable diseases (depression included) as taking centre stage. Depression is caused by various factors that include genetics and psychosocial factors like job losses, poverty, loss of loved ones and other life stressors. Debilitating illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes have as well been seen to co-exist with depression due to their overwhelming nature. The myths that ailments like depression are caused by witchcraft have no basis whatsoever.
Depression is indeed in our midst as depicted by the theme yet we are unaware or choose to ignore it. I recently watched a soapie dubbed “zone 14” that clearly outlined most people’s thoughts and views towards depression. In the soapie, the character Spinach told Popeye that he had depression only for the latter to lambast him that he cannot suffer from an ailment of the rich. Spinach reiterated his position and even gave example of former German goalkeeper Enke who committed suicide when he stood in front of a train at a level crossing. It was confirmed that a suicide note was discovered and was revealed that he had been suffering from depression for six years following the death of his daughter. This is clear indication that depression affects all in spite of status and social standing.
According to World Federation of Mental Health which has been tasked with an advocacy role for mental health, “a solution for depression is at hand, efficacious and cost effective treatment are available to improve the health and lives of millions of people around the world.” It in this instance that we are obliged to have awareness regarding signs and symptoms of depression. Some of the signs of depression include the following;
A markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities
Decrease or increase in appetite
Insomnia or excessive sleeping
Psychomotor retardation or agitation
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
Depression as has been alluded earlier can be managed successfully and efficiently. Management can come in the form of individual, family and group counseling. Antidepressants also come handy in treating depression with the therapeutic effect expected after a two week period. In further averting the imminent global crisis, it is necessary to involve stakeholders in the fight.
Community leaders, church leaders, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers and other team members all have a role to play and should thus up their game in creating awareness and prudent management of depression. With a team effort the projected rate of depression in 2020 can plummet down.
DAVID SIDNEY MANGWEGAPE