Mental health issues around the world are widely under-reported.
What we do know, however, is that they are continually on the rise year after year after year. Everything from anxiety, and bipolar disease, to schizophrenia, eating disorders, and depression are complex, tricky to diagnose, and often self-treated with substance abuse leading to an entirely separate set of issues.
While the data generally shows that wealthier countries have a higher rate of depression, the statistics are a bit skewed. Unfortunately, the lower the income and economic impact of a country is, the less likely it will be that depression and other mental illnesses will be reported and diagnosed, and even less likely to be treated.
Understanding the problems with the data collection, one 2017 study shows that between three and six percent of people around the world are diagnosed with depression. That’s 264 million people with women having a slightly higher diagnosed percentage than men with 4.1% vs. 2.7%. (*)
A 2016 study shows that China has the highest depression rate in the world, followed by India. In third place, is the United States with nearly one in five adults having some level of the disorder but only 41% of those diagnosed getting the treatment they need. (**)
The most recent study, April of 2019, starts to show that war-torn and politically unstable areas are just as much, if not more, affected by mental illness. According to this study, one in five adults in Afghanistan has been diagnosed with depression. (***)
With increased political tension, continual wars of religion and terrorism, and an unstable financial economy around the world, there are plenty of reasons to stress. But thankfully there are people out there actively providing as many resources as possible.
How to Deal with Depression
The first thing to do is to accept that you are not feeling well. You do not need to live with mental illness.
Learn as much as you can about your depression.
- Are there environmental triggers?
- Do you have a supportive community to lean on?
- Are there emotionally abusive relationships contributing to your mental state?
- Do you have an underlying medical condition that should be treated first?
If you determine that your depression is not caused by an underlying medical condition, you may want to try and treat the illness with lifestyle changes before turning to medication.
- Regular exercise increases serotonin, endorphins, and other brain chemicals that diminish the effects of depression.
- Eating well contributes to a healthy-feeling body with increased energy.
- Getting enough sleep increases mental clarity, mood, and motivation.
- Getting out of stressful jobs and relationships might be enough to move you out of depression and back on the road to living your best life.
If you find that changes to your lifestyle are not enough to move you back into a positive state of mind, it’s time to look to outside help.
- One-on-one therapy
- Support groups
- Hire a life coach
- Other holistic healing techniques
If those techniques still aren’t working, it may be time to add in pharmaceuticals. Medication, however, should not be the sole treatment plan. While you may be able to modify a chemical imbalance within the brain, it’s still incredibly important to live a healthy life with a positive support structure in place.
What Can We Do to Help?
If you know of someone who is struggling, you may be the support system they need to turn their life around. Reach out to anyone who may be living with depression and offer a shoulder to lean on. Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of adults and teenagers around the world.
If you know someone who is withdrawn or seems to be struggling, look for the warning signs.
- Seems lazy or unmotivated
- Unable to connect on a deep, personal level
- Overall lack of energy and optimism
- Often putting themselves down or taking situations too personally
- Has an overall negative outlook on life
- Drinks heavily or abuses drugs
- Has odd sleep patterns
Life is difficult. We should never have to live it on our own or feel ashamed of our thoughts and feelings. Getting someone to open up about their feelings and mental illness just might save a life.
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- (*) https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health
- (**) https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2016-09-14/the-10-most-depressed-countries
- (***) https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/afghanistan-most-depressed?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1
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