World Health Day: Depression Awareness
Written by: Esperanza Poquiz, Edited by: Jul DeGeus
On April 7, 1948, the World Health Organization’s Constitution took force; Their mission: “build a better, healthier future for people all over the world… [And to] direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations’ system”.1 A resource to help people combat diseases, the World Health Organization, or “WHO,” believes in assisting people of all ages to lead a long, healthy life. WHO has inspired many people across the world to help others in need, with more than 7,000 employees in 150 offices in multiple countries.1 In 1950, WHO began to celebrate their efforts by deeming April 7 World Health Day. Each year they choose a disease to champion and educate the public about.
This year’s World Health Day theme is depression, a disorder that affects many people of all ages. Depression is a common disorder that is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, affecting more than 3 million people in the United States each year. Depression can have an impact on your daily life, making everyday tasks harder to do. It may also have impacts on relationships with loved ones and friends, as well as hobbies and careers. Depression, if left untreated, can lead to fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and possibly suicide, which is the 2nd leading cause of death of 15-29 year olds.
What Depression Looks Like
There are many forms of depression; acknowledgement and awareness are key steps to helping yourself or a loved one cope with depression. Here are a few signs2:
- Excessive sleep or difficulty sleeping
- Decreased energy
- Constant headaches, cramps , or digestive problems
- Changes in weight and appetite
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Difficulty in remembering or concentrating.
People who suffer from depression may not experience every symptom and symptom severity varies with each person. Recognizing and tracking these signs can help you and your physician to determine which treatment is best for you.
Treatments come in various forms, each catered to the specific type of depression. Studies have shown that mild to moderate depression can be fought with types of therapy, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy– This takes a hands-on approach to changing patterns of thinking and behavior that contribute to depression.
- Interpersonal therapy- Based on the idea that personal relationships are key to psychological problems, interpersonally therapy focuses on how your relationships with other people can impact your mood.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy– This focuses on the unconscious process that helps you understand how behavior and mood are affected by unresolved issues.
- Phototherapy– Also known as light therapy, is the practice of sitting in a light box that permits either a dim or bright light for the prescribed time your doctor has given you.
Other forms of treatment for depression include medication, such as antidepressants, which control the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. If all other forms of medication have failed, brain stimulation therapy, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), may be an option. This treatment causes an electric charge that produces a controlled seizure. 3
Outside of Treatment: Lifestyle Changes
There are alternative ways to battle depression. Some cases of depression can be helped by exercising. Physical actives are shown to have many benefits like improving your mood through the release of endorphins. Performing a physical activity for 20 – 30 minutes a day can lead to better sleep, more energy, higher self-esteem, and less stress.
Owning a pet companion can also help with depression. Pets are known for showing unconditional love and can assist in defeating the sense of loneliness. Research shows that by owning a pet, it can lead to better sleep and health. Joining a social group can help as well.
Socialization has been known to assist in treating depression. Love to read? Join a book club! Or, kill two birds with one stone and get some exercise by joining a Zumba class. Schedule reoccurring meets with your friends or family members. Depression doesn’t have to be spent battling it alone, surround yourself with great people, or pets, and it could help you in more ways than you can imagine.
If you want to know more about depression and how you can get treated, consult your personal physician. If you are inspired to help others stay healthy, a great way to start that new journey is looking into the various health programs that we offer here at Centura College. If you feel that you may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, call: 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).
- World Health Organization. Who we are, what we do. (n.d.). Retrieved April 04, 2017, from https://www.who.int/about/en/
- The National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, October). Depression. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
- Goldberg, J., MD. (2016, May 07). Depression Overview Slideshow: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-depression-overview