Spotting the signs of depression

DUBAI // While women who are suffering from depression may feel sad or worthless, men generally become aggressive, hostile and withdrawn.

Men and women have similar symptoms of depression, including changes in sleep pattern, feelings of guilt, regrets, suicidal tendencies and changes in appetite.

Health officials say the signs are readable to loved ones. A low mood for more than two weeks, feeling tired all the time, having difficulty concentrating and insomnia are some.

People with depression can also become tearful easily, feel a loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss and do not want to go out or socialise.

“Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world, in many countries fewer than 10 per cent receive such treatments,” the World Health Organisation said.

The WHO said that barriers to effective care included a lack of resources, lack of trained healthcare providers and social stigma, while another is inaccurate assessment.

“In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants,” it said.

A new agenda for mental health in the East Mediterranean region, published in the Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal last year, pointed out that, “across the region, about two-thirds of mental health beds are in mental hospitals, and this proportion has not changed since the Mental Health Atlas 2011.

“The mental health workforce is small, especially in the less developed countries, and this has also remained static in most EMR countries over the last three years.”

It said that only a small minority of primary healthcare staff had received recent training in mental health.

“One-quarter of countries in the region have no national mental health or promotion programmes, and half the countries have three or fewer such programmes.

“There is also a scarcity of mental health information and limited research evidence with which to inform service planning, or to monitor implementation.”

Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased from 416 million to 615 million globally.

Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion (Dh3.67tn) a year.

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