WHO dedicates the World Health Day to depression, a major cause of suicide

Apr 7, 2017 | Author: neuromimeTICs

World Health Day promoted by WHO in 2017 has been dedicated to depression, a mental disorder that multiplies the risk of suicide by four. "Depression: Let's Talk" is the chosen slogan to help people affected by this mental illness to recover and even to prevent suicide in those more severe cases accompanied by suicidal ideation.

Poster credit: WHO

Depression has been the main theme of the last World Health Day, is an awareness day that the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates every year on April 7th to commemorate the anniversary of its founding. Under the slogan "Depression: Let's Talk", WHO has drawn attention to this serious mental disorder that affects 300 million people of all social strata and all ages in all countries. Is currently the leading cause of disability all over the world. In the most serious cases, depression can lead to suicide. Worldwide, nearly 800,000 people die each year from suicide and this is the second leading cause of death in the 15 to 29 age group, according to WHO.

Thinking about suicide (suicidal ideation) is very common in people undergoing a depressive process. In fact, the risk of suicide is four times higher among people with depression compared to the general population and up to 20 times greater when depression is severe, informs the Clinical Practice Guide on Managing Depression in Adults, of the National Health System, of the Spanish Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad.  

In Spain, the depression affected a total of 2,408,700 people in 2015 and actually it has a prevalence of 5.2%, according to a WHO report published in 2017, while suicide remained the leading cause of external death, with 3,602 deaths due to this cause (7.9% less in 2015 than in 2014), according to the latest Death Statistics of the spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE).

Faced with this situation, the fight against depression and suicide has become a priority for the WHO in the coming years, within its WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programe (mhGAP). One of the most effective ways to fight depression and its most feared consequence, suicide, is not to silence them. Both, health authorities and medical science, insist that talking to a person who is thinking about suicide does not provoke the act itself, but on the contrary: Breaking the silence about it can help unmask undiagnosed cases of depression and prevent suicide.

Warning Signs

Depression is characterized by persistent sadness and a state of dejection of at least two weeks’ duration, the inability to enjoy life as it was before (anhedonia) and to carry out the everyday activities of life.

It is a mental disorder that any person can develop, although it affects women more than men, and of multicausal origin, by a combination of genetic, psychological and biochemical factors. However, some circumstances have been identified as triggers of depression, such as a sentimental breakup, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, severe illness, or the consumption of alcohol and other addictions. Once it is manifested, its intensity can be variable: mild, moderate or severe depression.

Identifying the warning signs is crucial so that it does not go unnoticed, to diagnose it and to be able to treat it through psychotherapy, pharmacological treatment or a combination of both therapies.

The main warning signs of depression reported by WHO are the following:

  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Need to sleep more or less than normal (insomnia)
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased concentration
  • Indecision and restlessness
  • Feeling worthless, guilty or hopeless
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.