Mental health experts warn of a "global crisis" for depression and ask for changes in its treatment


World Health Organization (who) estimates that the 5% of adults worldwide suffer depression every year. Although it is the world's leading cause of disabilitythe specialists consider that it is still a 'health crisis unattended'.

Marcos Gómez, psychiatrist: "Depression is the post-pandemic pandemic, especially in children and adolescents"

Marcos Gómez, psychiatrist: "Depression is the post-pandemic pandemic, especially in children and adolescents"

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"The world is failing to address the persistent and growing global problem it faces," says the Lancet and World Psychiatric Association Commission on Depressionwhich calls for a response from the whole of society (policy makers, researchers, health professionals and the community in general) to reduce the overall load of said disease.

In high-income countries, about half of people with depression go undiagnosed and untreated, and this figure rises to 80-90% in low- and middle-income countries. Besides, the pandemic has worsened the situation with Social isolationthe duelthe uncertainty and limited access to health care, which has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of millions of people.

In high-income countries, about half of people with depression go undiagnosed and untreated, rising to 80-90% in low- and middle-income countries

"Although we have knowledge and tools on how to prevent and treat depression even in contexts with fewer resources, it is still a poorly understood condition and the vast majority of people affected suffer in silence," he explains to SINC Vikram Patelco-president of the organization that works in the Faculty of Medicine of the Harvard University (USA).

The Commission, made up of 25 experts from 11 different countriesmakes a call to improve care and prevention and increase knowledge and awareness to tackle one of the leading causes of preventable suffering and premature death worldwide.

"Proposed actions include addressing the social determinants of depression, particularly those affecting young people; scaling up psychosocial interventions by front-line providers such as community health workers; and engaging people with experience in research and service delivery," adds Patel.

"Investing in reducing the burden of depression will give millions of people the opportunity to become healthier, happier and more productive members of society, help strengthen national economies and promote United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030", points out the President of the Commission, Helen Herrmannthe National Center of Excellence in Youth Mental Health and the University of Melbourne (Australia).

An under-recognized and under-understood disease

There are still many myths surrounding depression today, such as the misconception that it is 'just sadness', a sign of soft spot or that it is limited to certain cultural groups. Experts point out that this disease is characterized by its persistence, its effect on daily functioning and its consequences for long-term health.

"It can affect anyone, regardless of gender, background, social class or age, and there is variability in the types and prevalence of depressive symptoms and signs between cultures and populations. The risk increases in contexts of adversity, such as poverty, violence Y discrimination of gender, race or of another type", indicate from the Commission.

There is no other disease as common, serious, universal and treatable as depression, and yet it receives little political attention and few resources

christian kieling
Author

Depression is linked to a wide variety of chronic physical conditions, and a person's physical health can influence their mental health, and vice versa. In the worst case, it can lead to suicide. Thus, the studies show that between 70% and 80% of people who die from this cause in high-income countries, and around half in low- and middle-income countries, suffer from a mental illness.

Pathology also has an enormous social and economic cost for individuals, families, communities and countries. Even before the pandemic by covid-19the loss of economic productivity linked to the depression was costing the world economy a trillion dollars a year.

"There is arguably no other disease as common, serious, universal and treatable as depression, and yet it receives little political attention and few resources," he continues. christian kielingco-chairman of the Commission and professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil).

"Effective psychosocial and medical treatments are difficult to access, while high levels of stigma continue to prevent many people, including the high proportion of adolescents and young people at risk or who already suffer from it, from seeking the help they need to lead a healthy life. and productive," she adds.

Prevention is essential

The Commission underlines the need for strategies that reduce exposure to adverse experiences both in childhood and throughout life to reduce the prevalence of depression. It is also necessary to intervene at the individual level, focusing on the LifestyleWhat smoking, alcohol consumption or physical inactivity; and other risk factors, such as violence in the couple, duels or financial crises.

"Prevention is the most neglected aspect of depression. This is partly because most interventions are outside the health sector," he says. Lakshmi Vijayakumarmember of the delegation working in the Chennai Voluntary Health Services and Suicide Prevention Center (India).

"Investing in depression prevention is excellent value for money. It is crucial that we implement evidence-based interventions that support parenting, reduce family violence and bullying, and promote mental health at work and address loneliness in older adults," he insists.

Personalized approach to care

The Commissioners stress that depression is a complex illness with a diversity of signs and symptoms, levels of severity and duration that occurs in all cultures and throughout life. For this reason, they are in favor of a personalized approach that recognizes the timing and intensity of symptoms and recommends interventions tailored to the person's specific needs.

Depression can affect anyone, regardless of gender, background, social class, or age, and there is variability in the types and prevalence of symptoms across cultures and populations.

Ultimately, specialists claim a higher investment to ensure that people receive care where and when they need it, and stress the importance of action by all governments to reduce the harmful effects of povertythe gender inequality and other social discrepancies in mental health.

"Tackle the climate emergencythe pandemic and other global and regional emergencies that exacerbate inequalities existing health threats should also be vital parts of efforts to prevent depression," concludes Herrman, first author of the study published in The Lancet.



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