The World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative collaborated with researchers from 20 facilities to determine the worldwide scope of depression. Depression can severely debilitate a person, causing their relationships, careers, and overall quality of life to suffer drastically. Over 120 million people suffer with depression and it is responsible for 850,000 suicides each year. A person is diagnosed with a Major Depressive Episode (MDE) if they meet the criteria for the symptoms of depression, including lack of concentration or energy, overwhelming guilt or negative self-assessment, sadness, sleep or appetite disruption and general lack of interest in pleasurable activities.
The researchers interviewed nearly 90,000 people for the study and discovered that in high-income countries, including the United States, over five percent of the population had suffered a depressive episode within the previous 12 months, and almost one-sixth of the population were likely to experience the symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. The study also revealed that China had the lowest rates of depression, at only 12 percent, and the depression rates in India were the highest, with almost 36 percent of the country’s population reporting an MDE. The findings also showed that women were two times more likely to experience an MDE and factors such as death of a spouse or divorce increased the chance of developing depression. Evelyn Bromet, a professor from State University of New York at Stony Brook said, “This is the first study which uses a standardized method to compare depression and MDE across countries and cultures. We have shown that depression is a significant public-health concern across all regions of the world and is strongly linked to social conditions. Understanding the patterns and causes of depression can help global initiatives in reducing the impact of depression on individual lives and in reducing the burden to society.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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