Tuesday June 25, 2019

Depression affecting 86 million people in Southeast Asia, also biggest cause of Suicide: World Health Organization (WHO)

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Brain Scans may help identify whether Talk Therapy or Antidepressant Medication more likely to help a Patient recover from Depression
A depressed woman (representational Image), VOA

New Delhi, April 6, 2017: With depression being the biggest cause of suicides, and the highest cause of death among 15-29-year olds in Southeast Asia, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called for scaling up of the quality and reach of mental health services to tackle depression.

Depression affects nearly 86 million people in WHO Southeast Asia Region and if left untreated, in its most severe form can lead to suicide.

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The global health organisation said there is a need for individuals, communities and countries to talk more openly about depression and scale up the quality and reach of mental health services to prevent untold hardships and precious lives being cut short by depression, a condition that can be easily treated.

“Depression is an issue that needs to be heard. It can affect anyone at any stage of life, impacting relationships, work and social interactions, and impeding our ability to live life to its fullest. Depression can be managed and overcome,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO Southeast Asia, in a statement.

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April 7 every year is marked as World Health Day and depression has been set as the theme for 2017. WHO wants to lay emphasis on depression because it involves persistent sadness or loss of interest or pleasure in things normally enjoyed.

According to WHO, though depression affects all demographic groups, it is more commonly experienced by adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth), and adults over the age of 60.

Stating that though efforts have been made by countries in the region, Singh said that mental health has been among the top 10 health priorities in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka in recent years.

Eight of the 11-member countries have mental health policies or plans. She complimented India for its recent legislation that decriminalises suicide and seeks to provide health care and services for persons with mental health conditions.

Singh added that depression-related health services across the region must be made more accessible and of higher quality, and this is possible even in low- and middle-income settings.

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Medical experts have also said that with the rise in sedentary lifestyle among youngsters, infertility is also becoming a major reason for depression. They said depression is also leading to disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

“It is important to diagnose the symptoms that hinder conception. If a person is experiencing tearfulness, not looking forward to things as much as they used to, have issues with sleeping and/or eating, are not enjoying activities like one did in the past, and are feeling irritable, it is possible that the person is depressed. Women with increased stress hormones are less likely than others to get pregnant.” said Jyoti Gupta, IVF Expert at city based Indira IVF Hospital.

Talking about the symptoms of depression, Samir Parikh, Director Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences at Fortis Healthcare, said that symptoms could be accompanied by significant weight loss, decrease or increase in appetite, sleep disturbances, low energy levels and fatigue.

“A depressed individual might experience feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, with a difficulty in concentration, difficulty in decision-making, and recurrent thoughts of death,” said Parikh. (IANS)

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Here’s How You can Fight Your Digital Addiction

Vohra suggested that when parents realise that their child is spending too much time on screen, it is very important first to have a dialogue with the kid and ask them to cut down on media consumption

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

Digital addiction is real and it could be as dangerous as drug addiction, warned psychiatrists while outlining practical ways to fight the urge to use gadgets non-stop both among children and adults.

The warning came following reports of a 24-year-old mother committing suicide last week in Tamil Nadu after she was prevented from using TikTok and a 16-year-old student from Madhya Pradesh suffering a major cardiac arrest and losing his life after playing PUBG for six straight hours last month.

The key to fighting digital addiction is to realise the problem when someone develops it, the experts said.

Parikh also recommended that adults should undergo a four hours of “digital detox” every week – a period when they do not use their phone or any gadget.

“If one finds it difficult to go through those four hours then there is a problem which needs to be addressed,” he said.

People who are addicted to using gadgets, tend to get “withdrawal symptoms” in the form of always thinking about that them, or becoming irritable with disturbed sleep when they try to stop using their devices, said Sandeep Vohra, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.

“Digital addiction is as bad as addiction to any other drug. So if you are hit by digital addiction, the signs are that you actually tend to go off your normal routine life. You are always dependent and on the screen,” Vohra told IANS.

Such people can neglect personal hygiene and their own self. They also tend to stop interacting with the society, with their family members and stop thinking about their responsibilities or stop doing their day-to-day chores.

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Some players claimed to have received the reminder within an hour and a half of playing the game. Wikimedia Commons

“One can have clinical depression, anxiety, obsessive symptoms, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty in concentrating on other things.

“And you can have in rare cases, when one becomes over-dependent, psychosis. So you have to be aware of all this and it can be very challenging if you don’t realise that you are going into addiction,” Vohra added.

It is not just adults who are vulnerable to digital addiction as use of smartphones and other gaming devices have become common among children.

But do we know when a child starts showing signs of addiction and when to seek help?

The experts suggested that parents should be alarmed when they notice that a child’s ability to live life normally has got affected and they lash out badly when digital access is denied.

“Parents need to be good role models. If parents spend too much time on digital gadgets then children learn and follow by example. Encourage children to be social and develop hobbies,” Parikh said.

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“If you keep focusing your child’s attention on indoor activities there are higher chances of him/her becoming digitally addicted. Therefore encourage him/her to play sports or meet friends and family. Reading is also a great way to combat boredom if indoors,” he added.

Vohra suggested that when parents realise that their child is spending too much time on screen, it is very important first to have a dialogue with the kid and ask them to cut down on media consumption.

“If they feel that either the child is not responding the way they want, or if they feel that the child is trying to tell them lies and still using time on screen, then it’s better to consult a mental health professional,” Vohra informed. (IANS)