Depression has become the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide

Depression has become the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression has become the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

The condition has overtaken lower respiratory disease as the biggest global health problem, with figures showing more than 300 million people have been diagnosed with depression worldwide. This is an 18% increase since 2006.

Although there is a lot more awareness about the fact that depression exists, there are fears that the lack of understanding about the condition and the prejudice that sufferers face is what’s stopping people from getting effective treatment.

According to researchers, even in high income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression don’t receive the treatment.

It’s not just our mental health which is affected by depression. WHO has identified clear links between depression and other mental and physical health problems. The organisation commented:

“Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression.”

Depression in the UK

According to mental health charities in the UK, mixed anxiety and depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem in the country. It’s estimated that 7.8 per cent of the population meets the criteria for the condition and it’s believed to account for one fifth of all days taken off work.

As well as affecting our work performance, home life and personal relationships, depression can cause prolonged periods of sadness and, in extreme cases, can lead to suicide.

All of this information is supported by data which was released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last year which found that depression and anxiety levels amongst those living in the UK are rising. 

The report carried out by the ONS also found that overall satisfaction with our health – including mental health - is on the decline. In 2012, 46.4% of those who were surveyed said that they were mostly or completely satisfied with their health. Between 2013 and 2014 however, this had gone down to 44.6%.

Furthermore, it appears as though an increasing number of UK residents are suffering from mental health problems. In 2012, 18.3% of people said they had experienced anxiety or depression whereas the latest figures show that this has now gone up to 19.7%.

What are the signs of depression?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a period of feeling low and depression, but if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, you should consider speaking to your GP:

  • Continuous low moods or feeling sad or hopeless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Being tearful or feeling guilt-ridden for no particular reason
  • Feeling irritable or intolerant of others
  • Experiencing a lack of motivation and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy
  • You find it difficult to make decisions
  • You always feel anxious or worried
  • You’re experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Many people are unaware that there are also some physical signs of depression including:

  • Moving or speaking slower than usual
  • Change in appetite or weight (usually decreased)
  • Unexplained aches or pains
  • Loss of libido
  • Problems sleeping

If you think that you or someone you know could be suffering from depression, please feel free to visit our Depression and Anxiety Treatment Programmes page for more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments that are available. Alternatively, you can contact us in the strictest of confidence and we will be more than happy to help. 

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