Health Feature Articles
World Health Day — Depression: Let’s talk
Megan Samson, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Boone County, University of Missouri Extension
The World Health Organization is focusing on depression for this year’s World Health Day on April 7, 2017. With a theme of “Depression: Let’s talk,”1 the health campaign brings awareness worldwide to the different faces of depression. It is likely that we all know someone with depression, whether or not we are aware of it. People who are depressed could be at school, at home or in a professional setting, but struggle to share with others the mental anguish they endure. Depression can affect a person’s ability to accomplish everyday tasks, earn a living and take part in relationships with family and friends. Depression can even increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and vice versa.1 And worse, depression can lead to suicide, which is the second-leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.1
While symptoms of depression include persistent sadness and a loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities for at least two weeks, it should not be seen as a sign of weakness. It is treatable! Therapy or antidepressant medication, or a combination of these, are typical remedies. Admissions to mental hospitals and psychiatric wards are increasing in America; however, the proportion of available beds in mental hospitals has decreased causing a higher turnover rate for admitted patients.2 Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the signs of depression, and to take care of each other — let’s talk.
What can you do if you think you are depressed?1
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them.
- Seek professional help. Your local health care worker or doctor is a good place to start.
- Remember that with the right help, you can get better.
- Keep up with activities that you used to enjoy when you were well.
- Stay connected. Keep in contact with family and friends.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk.
- Stick to regular eating and sleeping habits.
- Accept that you might have depression and adjust your expectations. You may not be able to accomplish as much as usual.
- Avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs; they can worsen depression.
- If you feel suicidal, contact someone for help immediately.
What can you do to help those who are depressed?1
- Be informed about depression and its causes, consequences, prevention and treatment. Learn more at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/.
- Provide support. Encourage the depressed individual to confide in and talk with you.
- World Health Organization, “World Health Day – 7 April 2017,” http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/en/.
- World Health Organization, Mental Health Atlas 2014 (Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2015).
Last Updated 03/30/2017