Friday, May 31, 2013

Depression - Who is Most at Risk of Depression and Anxiety?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is a common mental disorder that is the leading cause of disability and the leading contributor to the global burden of disease. By 2020 WHO predicts that depression will rise to the number two contributor to global burden of disease. Who would have known?

WHO Depression Facts (from WHO):

  • Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.

  • Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.

  • Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.

  • Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.

So what is Depression?

Depression is a common mental disorder that manifests itself in the form of depressed mood, a loss of enjoyment of living, low self esteem, inability to sleep properly, loss of appetite, low levels of energy, and poor concentration. It affects people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Some experience severe symptoms and are unable to function day to day and fatalities account for about eight hundred and fifty thousand lives yearly.

So who is most at risk?

The statistics suggest that women are more susceptible to depression than men. Approximately one in six women will experience depression at some stage in their lives while men have a one in four chance. Whilst there are factors that affect women more so than men, the numbers mask a real issue for men...

There are factors that impact on women that contribute to depression such as child birth (post natal depression), hormone changes and the multiple roles women have in day to day life (like raising children, running a home and holding down a job, all at the same time).

One of the known issues with the statistics is that men are known to be less likely to seek support for their depression. The social stigma placed on men prevents them from seeking help and consequently the numbers may be skewed. Many men consider depression as a weakness, or at least they perceive others to do so and therefore they are reluctant to step forward and admit their illness. Although this is improving today, there are still an unknown number of men who do not present for support.

Children who experience depression are more likely to have a family history of the disorder. Often one of the parents will have experienced depression at some stage in their lives. Adolescence is a period when depression seems to affect a greater number of people, particularly girls. They too have a higher than normal likelihood to have a family history of depression although not to the same extent as children.

What are the Risk Factors?

A number of factors have been recognized as increasing the risk of contracting depression. These include such things as stress, marriage breakup, relationship break down, a loss of a loved one, onset of chronic illness such as diabetes, abuse or neglect or some other traumatic event.


Depression is a major mental disorder that is prevalent everywhere, in all ages, races and genders. There seems to be a higher incidence in women but the numbers could be somewhat misleading. There are several known contributing factors, including family history of the disease.

According to WHO, depression will be a growing problem for many years to come.

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