Depression a huge global Cloud by Dr. Mark Ritzen

Mark_Wand_klein     By Dr. Mark Ritzen

Depression a huge global problem…

According to an estimation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) worldwide more than 120 million, perhaps even up to 350 million people suffer from clinical depression (1).

At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide and is responsible for 850,000 deaths every year.

Knowing that 60-80% of all depression cases can be effectively treated with brief, structured forms of psychotherapy and antidepressant medications it is very unfortunate that worldwide far less than 25% has access to appropriate care.

(The following info graphic might give a more precise idea about the stats:

Some figures……

-Compared to developing countries, lifetime prevalence of depression (10-15%) seems to be higher in high-income lands.

(World Bank criteria for income (2009 gross national income (GNI) per capita): low income is US$995 equivalent or less; middle income is $996–12,195; high income is $12,196 or more)

-Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S

-4% of adolescents will develop significant symptoms of serious depression each year in the United States. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 10 to 24.

-About 50% of all adults experiencing symptoms of depression will not talk to a doctor or seek help for depression. 

-A recent study sponsored by the World Health Organization and the World Bank found unipolar major depression to be the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Although 87% of the world’s governments offer some mental health services at the primary- care level, 30% of them have no relevant programme, and 28% have no budget specifically identified for mental health

-In his article “the cost of depression” Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D.(American Institute for Cognitive Therapy) speaks about the huge economic burden ( about $83 billion each year (lost productivity and increased medical expenses) in the united states alone.

Medihoo Infographic Depression

Medihoo Infographic Depression

Though, before interpreting these figures, it is important to know that many countries cannot provide reliable data.

According to a press release by the WHO in 2001 (“Mental disorders affect one in four people“) only 73% of countries have a formal mental health reporting system, and only 57% have done epidemiologic studies or have data collection systems for documenting mental illness.

Furthermore caused by fear for stigmatisation or ignorance about key symptoms, it is likely that there is a huge number of persons are suffering from depression without having been diagnosed correctly.

Furthermore, the thresholds to determine whether the criteria for clinical depression are present differ from region to region.

The gap between what is urgently needed and what is available to reduce the burden is still very wide. WHO has recognised this and to improve this situation, in 2008 WHO has lanced the “Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)”.

The Programme aims to help countries increase services for people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders, through care provided by health workers who are not specialists in mental health.

The programme asserts that with proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication, tens of millions of people with mental disorders, including depression, could begin to lead normal lives – even where resources are scarce.

Ethiopia is one of the first 6 countries chosen to implement the WHO’s mhGAP initiative;

in this video Dr. Tedla W. Giorgis inztoduces a short documentary about the mhGAP programm in his country

Participating health workers can receive structured trainings to assess and manage persons with a psychiatric problem, like depression:

To learn more about mhGAP Intervention Guide, please follow these links:

Further links:



By Dr. Mark Ritzen – Psychiatrist. View his Medihoo profile HERE

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