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The World Health Organization describes depression as a mental disorder characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration. 

 Depression can be described as a type of sadness that will not go away, it lingers around for more than two weeks.

Depression affects people of any gender, age or background, it affects over 120 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of disability.

Depression can become chronic affecting the person's ability to take care of himself or to do everyday chores.

Depression can lead to loss of employment and relationships with family and friends.

Depression if untreated can lead to premature deaths by suicide; over 800, 000 lives are lost each year because of it.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression
When a person is depressed, there is loss of interest in doing things that they normally enjoy. They can become cranky and restless. Common sign and symptoms are:
-Loss of interest in sex
-Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
-Changes in apetite
-Loss of weight or weight gain
-Loss of energy
-Suicidal thoughts
-Difficulties sleeping

The good news about depression is that it is treatable, 60-80% of people affected by it can be treated sucessfully with medication and psychotherapy, in a primary care setting.

The bad news is that fewer than 25% of people affected have access to this treatment.

Depression is treated by:
1- Antidepressant drugs
2- Psychotherapy
3- A combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy
Antidepressants work for most people; there are several of them.

Most will feel better with the first antidepressant drug that they try,  a small number will need to try different ones.

According to WHO, primary care programs for depression can improve quality of care, health outcomes and satisfaction with care.

Success with treatment would be improved if the patient corperates with his doctor or health professional. This can be done by:
-Describing any of the above symptoms to them
-Bringing any prescription or non-prescription medication in use for their attention
-Telling them of any other health problems
-Telling them If antidepressant drugs were taken in the past.
-Telling them of any herbal supplements in use.

A serious and tragic outcome of depression is suicide, about 850,000 lives are lost each year as a result.

The good thing is, suicide can be prevented.

Peventing Suicide
Suicide can be prevented by:
  • Restricting access to lethal methods.
  • Promoting good physical and postive mental health
  • Reducing stigmatization of mental illness
  • Encouraging help-seeking behaviour
Suicide can be prevented by minimizing suicide risk in high-risk populations; this means early identification of individuals at risk, good diagnosis and effective treatment.
Suicide can be prevented by providing primary care physicians with the tools for suicidal risk evaluation, treatment intervention and referral skills.

Providing educational programs for people who regularly come into contact with individuals or families in distress can lead to early diagnosis.