Fact № 1 The most depressed nation
Depression is not just a bad mood, it is serious changes in the organism at the biochemical level with which people are unable to cope on their own. Depression may last for weeks, it is a prolonged state. It can develop in any person, regardless of age, geographical and social status. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. On average, over the past year about 1 person in 20 has been diagnosed with a depressive episode. The average age of people who have had depression is 32 years old.
Moreover, this disease occurs more often in countries with a higher income. The most significant indicator of depression among high-income countries, according to WHO, In France (21%), the USA (19.2%) and the Netherlands (17.9%). Among low- and middle-income countries – in Brazil (18.4%) and Ukraine (14.6%). Depression occurs rarer in Japan (6.6%), and China (6.5%).
Fact № 2 Depression and other diseases
Depression can affect the development and outcome of common chronic or long-term conditions (arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity).
Depression affects not only the condition of the central nervous system and behavior, it also affects the whole body. It increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women. At the same time, diabetes increases the risk of depression by a third. American researcher Frank Hu says, that people suffering from depression have the elevated blood cortisol level (“stress hormone”), which leads to a high blood sugar level, or low blood sugar metabolism, as well as resistance (stability) to insulin and the accumulation of belly fat, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
It was found that depression affects about 15-25% of cancer patients. Depression is not conducive to the development of cancer. However, it can be a complement to the existing factors that become the cause of this disease. Faced with this diagnosis, the person may also experience fear, anger, sadness, and a number of other strong emotions. And despite the fact that they will fade over time, they can turn into depression. Depression in patients with cancer not only affects the patients themselves but also has a serious negative impact on their families.
Fact № 3 Food affects our mood
Nutritional deficiencies can seriously hinder the production of special amino acids that are vital to mental health. Neurotransmitters – are substances that transmit nerve impulses between brain cells, they consist of amino acids. A deficit of serotonin (one of the major neurotransmitters) leads to the formation of depression. This substance is formed from an amino acid called tryptophan. When the consumption of nuts and whole grains is reduced, the level of tryptophan in the brain is reduced at the same time.
Also, there is evidence that inadequate intake of folic acid, vitamin B12, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fish and products of vegetable origin), eicosapentaenoic acid associated with the clinical manifestations of depression. In a study of Norwegian physicians, which was attended by about 22 thousand people, it was found that symptoms of depression were down in a group of people who was taking fish oil.
Women who drink four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day have a lower risk of depression than those who do not drink. The researchers argue that caffeine affects the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which regulate mood and severity of depression.
Fact № 4 Young fathers and postpartum depression
Postpartum depression – is a condition that occurs in new mothers. Instead of happiness, joy and euphoria a young mother begins to experience unexpected sharp mood swings, crying for no reason or insignificant occasion. Fun abruptly gives way to sadness, insomnia appears.
In most cases, this condition occurs in the first six months after birth. Postpartum depression may be the reason for depressed mood, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of strength, tearfulness, and the feeling of loneliness. Severe postpartum depression can lead to infanticide, as well as maternal mortality, often as a result of suicide. In addition, the data suggest that the health service of many countries face the problem of postpartum depression, but low- and middle-income countries experience the greatest burden.
The causes of this condition are not fully understood. Bad relationships in the family, lack of money, difficult birth, and so on may become the aggravating factors.
At the same time, it pointed out that about 4% of fathers experience depression during the first year of baby’s life. When the child reaches 12 years of age, 21% of fathers experience one or more episodes of depression. Young fathers with a history of depression, low education and income, are more prone to this state.
Fact № 5 Risk group
The causes of depression are still not fully understood. A combination of many factors affects the development of depression such as gender, age, family history, marital status and so on. It is known that prone to depression mostly are:
– Elderly people. One person out of 7 at the age of 65 years suffers from depression. Up to 90% of people do not receive the proper treatment. Moreover, older women suffer from depression more often in 2 times than older men.
– Women. Depression occurs in approximately 1 out of 5 women. Studies have shown that female sex hormones directly affect the chemical processes in the brain that determine emotions and mood.
– Black people, Hispanics, and children from mixed marriages.
– People with a low level of education.
– Those who have previously been married.
– Unemployed people.
There are several factors that can increase the chances of depression: childhood abuse, some drugs used to treat high blood pressure (beta blockers, reserpine), conflicts in the family, with friends, the death of a loved one, some chronic diseases (a migraine), lack or excess of sleep and others.
But the main factor influencing the risk of depression – is a genetic predisposition. If a person has a parent, brother or sister who had a depressive disorder, the risk of depression increases in 2 or 3 times.
Fact № 6 Depression in children
Only 20 years ago physicians agreed that childhood depression exists. The fact is that small children can not express in words, and in general to identify the symptoms of depression associated with changes in mood and feelings. The child can feel guilt, fatigue, anger, isolation, but it will be difficult to tell an adult about his condition. Therefore, parents need to monitor the physical manifestations of depression. Children may have a different kind of pain, constant fatigue, lack of opinion, bleak expression, delayed reactions and so on.
In the US, it is diagnosed depression in 4% of preschool children, 5% of students and 11% of teens. Experts say that this disorder can develop even in children of 2-3 years old.
The treatment for childhood depression includes medication only in 20% of cases. Most often, play, family, or individual psychotherapy helps.
Fact № 7 The most depressing work
There are professions that may contribute to depression. For example, at risk are people who work in nursing homes, as well as in child care. About 11% of them experienced a depressive attack in the course of a year. According to Christopher Willard, American psychologist, this phenomenon is due to the fact that this work is accompanied by monitoring of sick people who are unable to express their gratitude and appreciation for the fact that they are too small or unhealthy. And it is much harder to get satisfaction from your own labor. Food workers are also at higher risk for depression, as well as social workers, health workers.
According to a national survey on drug use and health, conducted in 2007, workers with the lowest rates of depression are engineers, architects, and scientists. According to Dr. Eugene Baker, this is due to the fact that there is a low-stress level in these areas. For example, in engineering, workers have more control over how and when the work will be finished. Psychologists add that there are factors that reduce the likelihood of depression development, and they are included in work that requires some physical activity, interaction with people, diversity and a sense of accomplishment.
Fact № 8 A blood test as a way to diagnose depression
Can depression be diagnosed by a blood test? Eva Redei, a professor at Northwestern University (USA), together with other researchers developed a special technique that will allow diagnosing depression by a blood test. Scientists have studied children and adolescents with early-onset depression and identified 11 new markers. In healthy people, these markers were not detected.
Fact № 9 A gray world
The world really looks gray for people suffering from depression. Because depression disturbs retinal neurons sensitive to contrasting shades. A study conducted by German scientists has shown that people suffering from depression, regardless of whether they take medication or not, have a decreased retinal response to contrast images.
Although researchers are not sure why depressed people see the world in gray, but they have their own hypothesis. They believe that the contrast vision is determined by the work of work amacrine cells that interconnect neurons of the retina. The work of amacrine cells is determined by the neurotransmitters dopamine. And the depressed people have a decreased level of dopamine hormone.
We hope that these depression facts help you to understand better what depression is. Very often, people have the wrong representation about this disease. Depression facts are to help to get rid of misconceptions!