De­pres­sion; the lead­ing causes of dis­abil­i­ties

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Wangmo

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) has pro­jected that, by 2030, de­pres­sion can be the first lead­ing causes all dis­abil­i­ties.

Around eight per­cent (world­wide) and seven per­cent in South-East-Asia Re­gion of all lived with dis­abil­ity in 2015.

This was high­lighted as the coun­try ob­served the World Health day on 7 April at Thim­phu.

In the WHO South East Asia Re­gion, 86 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fer from de­pres­sion which in­creased by 18 per­cent from 2005 to 2015.

De­pres­sion is a main cause of sui­ci­dal cases. WHO es­ti­mated that close to 800,000 peo­ple die by sui­cide ev­ery year.

The theme of the World Health day, this year is ‘De­pres­sion; Let’s Talk’ which in­di­cated that, by open­ing up to peo­ple, he or she must share about the feel­ings to other.

Min­is­ter of health, Ly­onpo Tandin Wangchuk who was the chief guest of that day said, “De­pres­sion can be pre­vented and treat­able.”

Ly­onpo added that the un­lim­ited wants of in­di­vid­ual is one of the causes of de­pres­sion among many.

The se­nior Psy­chi­a­trist of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Na­tional Re­fer­ral Hos­pi­tal, Dr. Chen­cho Dorji said, “Just as de­pres­sion can be pre­vented and treated, and so is sui­cide, we need proper care with peo­ple with de­pres­sion, so lot of sui­cides can be


He added that de­pres­sion causes a lot of suf­fer­ing for the in­di­vid­ual and the fam­ily. It can im­pair func­tion­ing, com­pro­mise qual­ity of life and even take life.

Psy­chi­a­trist said, “The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of de­pres­sion in Bhutan is alarm­ing for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.”

One of the causes could be a huge gap in treat­ment of peo­ple liv­ing with de­pres­sion.

Dr said, in or­der to re­duce the treat­ment gap, men­tal health should me made a pri­or­ity in na­tional agenda in the 12 five years plan. Adding that, “The Na­tional Men­tal Health Pro­gram needs to be strength­en­ing in terms of both hu­man re­sources and fund­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to the WHO es­ti­mates, Bhutan should have about 20,000 peo­ple liv­ing with de­pres­sion in the past year but only 1,000 peo­ple sought treat­ment in hos­pi­tals which means only five per­cent re­ceived treat­ment from all the peo­ple suf­fered from de­pres­sion.

He said that the de­pres­sion is a very dif­fi­cult dis­ease to be iden­ti­fied and di­ag­nose as there is no spe­cific test or equip­ment to di­ag­nose de­pres­sion. Di­ag­no­sis is mainly through clin­i­cal in­ter­view and ex­am­i­na­tion.

An­other rea­son could be be­cause of strong so­cial stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion of peo­ple with men­tal dis­or­der in­clud­ing de­pres­sion.

He men­tioned that, not only there is shame in seek­ing treat­ment due to lack of aware­ness, there is strong su­per­sta­tion sur­round­ing the causes of men­tal dis­or­ders that pre­vents them from seek­ing treat­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to him, num­ber of de­pres­sion causes will also rise with the rapid pace of our de­vel­op­ment, in­creas­ing ru­ral-ur­ban mi­gra­tion, breakup of co­he­sive com­mu­nity and ex­tended fam­ily sup­port, grow­ing un­em­ploy­ment and in­creas­ing drugs and al­co­hol in our so­ci­eties.

Feel­ing ir­ri­ta­ble, loos­ing tem­per quickly, feel­ing rest­less or ag­i­tated at times, and feel­ing of lonely are few symp­toms of de­pres­sion.

The other symp­tom in­cludes the change in cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing such as poor con­cen­tra­tion or de­creased at­ten­tion-span, poor mem­ory, slow think­ing or not able to think clearly or make even make sim­ple de­ci­sion.

See­ing ev­ery­thing from the nega­tive side, changes in body func­tions such as sleep and ap­petite, feel­ing fa­tigued or lack­ing en­ergy, loss of weight or gain in oc­ca­sional cases are also sig­nif­i­cance of de­pres­sion.

Fa­cial ex­pres­sion of dull or no move­ment of body or no ex­pres­sion is also one of the symp­toms of de­pres­sion.

The Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Health, Dr. Karma Lhazeen said that, this year theme pro­vides the op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties to get in­volved to­gether in ac­tiv­i­ties that can lead to bet­ter well-be­ing and health.

She added that peo­ple do not get de­pressed only when things go wrong. She said, “Some get de­pressed even when their life is go­ing smoothly.”

The causes of de­pres­sion are usu­ally multi-fac­to­rial in­clud­ing psy­choso­cial stres­sors like ill health, dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship, fi­nan­cial bur­den and poverty.

De­pres­sion is an im­por­tant pub­lic health prob­lem, one of the lead­ing causes of diseases bur­den and sui­cide in the world.

Ef­fec­tive com­mu­nity ap­proaches such as school­based pro­gram, ex­er­cise pro­gram and in­ter­ven­tion for par­ents of chil­dren with be­hav­ioral prob­lems will be ex­pected to re­duce the de­pres­sion bur­den of a in­di­vid­u­als.

De­pres­sion can be pre­vented and treat­able: Chief Guest Min­is­ter of health, Ly­onpo Tandin Wangchuk speak­ing at the In­ter­na­tional Health Day in Thim­phu on the 7th April, 2017.

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