A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

SmartHealthToday: World Health Organization focuses on preventing and treating depression

By Shelly Reese

Because depression is ubiquitous, debilitating and – at its worst – deadly, the World Health Organization is engaging in a year-long campaign focused on educating people about depression and how to seek help for the condition.

Depression is an illness that can happen to anybody.

The mental anguish it causes can profoundly impair a person’s ability to carry out even simple everyday tasks and have devastating consequences on their relationships. Depression also is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the WHO. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year olds.

The prevalence of depression has soared in recent years worldwide. The number of people living with depression increased by more than 18 percent between 2005 and 2015, according to estimates released by WHO in February. More than 300 million people worldwide are affected.

Although an estimated 16.1 million U.S. adults – 6.7 percent of the nation’s adult population – had at least one major depressive episode in the previous year, more than 80 percent of the disease burden falls on people living in low- and middle-income countries.

The public education campaign, Depression: Let’s talk, seeks to bring depression out of the shadows by encouraging people to engage in open conversations about depression at home, in the health care setting, at school, in the community and in the workplace. The goal of the campaign it to help people better understand the prevalence of the mental health disorder, to remove the stigma of mental illness and to encourage people to seek treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, help is available. Click here to find a St. Elizabeth Behavioral Health location near you.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline – (800) 273-8255 (TALK) – now if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or someone you know is exhibiting other warning signs of suicide:

• Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
• Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
• Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.
• Feeling hopeless.
• Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.
• Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.
• Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out.
• Increased alcohol or drug use.
• Withdrawing from friends, family and society.
• Feeling anxious or agitated, being unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time.
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
• Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.

SmartHealthToday is a service of St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

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