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People with depression should not suffer in silence, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Friday.
WHO-Western Pacific Region Director Shin Young-soo stressed that people should talk openly and honestly about depression to break down fear and stigma and prevent its fatal consequence – suicide.
According to WHO, more than 500 people from the Western Pacific Region commit suicide.
“It is a tragedy that over 500 people take their lives each day in this region, many of them young people. It makes me terribly sad to think that we are losing people in the prime of their lives,” Shin said.
The WHO official bared that suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29.
Fighting depression is the focal point of the World Health Day celebration yesterday, April 7; with the theme “Depression – Let’s talk” and sub-theme “It’s OK not to be OK. Express yourself. Let’s talk.”
Recent WHO data revealed that depression is the leading contributor to disability worldwide. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of people living with depression grew to over 300 million globally.
Unfortunately, only less than half of the total number of people living with depression are receiving treatment because of fear and discrimination and lack of available services, Shin said.
Depression is a serious illness characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, for at least two weeks, accompanied by physical and psychological symptoms such as disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, decreased concentration, and feelings of guilt or low self-worth.
Adverse life events, such as the loss of a loved one, unemployment and trauma arising from violence or abuse, can increase the risk of developing depression, according to WHO.
Shin said a person suffering from depression must remember that help is available.
“One of the most dangerous misperceptions surrounding mental illness is that nothing can be done. Even worse, people with depression sometimes blame themselves for their condition. If you are living with depression, my message to you is this: Help is available, and there is absolutely no shame in asking for it. Your depression is not your fault. And you are not alone,” Shin explained.
According to health experts, antidepressant medication, talk therapies or a combination of both are effective treatments for moderate to severe depression.
Too, a healthy lifestyle – including regular exercise, spending time with family and friends and healthy diet – can ease the condition of people fight mild depression.
Earlier, DoH Secretary Paulyn Ubial urged the public to give more attention to their loved ones who are already showing signs of depression.
“It is incumbent upon us, as a relative, friend, co-worker, to really be aware of the people around us and to support them in their times of need. That’s human nature. Hindi ‘yung deadma lang tayo,” Ubial said.
(CHARINA CLARISSE L. ECHALUCE)