The World Needs a Depression Intervention
Did you know that at any point in time, about 6 percent of the population will have a significant depression? And only 20 to 25 percent of these people ever seek help.
Given those statistics it’s no surprise that the World Health Organization (WHO) named depression the number one cause of disability in the world, in terms of years lived with disability (YLDs).
Facts from the World Health Organization (WHO)
• Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
• Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
• Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.
• Fewer than 25 percent of those affected have access to effective treatments.
What Research Says
Muñoz and co-authors William Beardslee, MD, professor of child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Yan Leykin, PhD, assistant adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF, are calling their article a “call to action for the health care system.” The article builds on a 2009 Institute of Medicine report on prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, which provided evidence that mental disorders can be prevented.
“Very few people are aware that depression can be prevented, including professionals in the field, and there are very few preventive services,” said Muñoz in a press release from UCSF.
“The healthcare system is set up to pay providers for treatment. It has not been set up to pay providers for prevention of mental disorders,” said Muñoz. “Without financial incentives for prevention, few professionals will engage in preventive interventions. It’s a major structural obstacle.”
In addition to cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal psychotherapy methods, one of the “nontraditional” mood management interventions mentioned in the article is an internet-based program using cognitive-behavioral tools. At six months the intervention was found to reduce relapse in the experimental group to 10.5 percent of the participants, versus 37.8 percent in the control group.
Guidelines for Depression
The article offers a set of guidelines to help decrease the number of people affected by depression, which includes identifying high-risk individuals and ultimately striving to reduce new cases of depression by half.
Those at high risk for depression include:
(1) people who have already had a major depressive episode – the likelihood of having a repeat episode is increased and can lead to chronic or recurrent depression
(2) recognizing that depression may be a family illness – parents who have had depressive episodes should consider the needs of their children
(3) stressful life events often trigger depression -therefore, managing stress in an effective way through mood management techniques can be beneficial.
How Brain Imaging Can Help Depression
Our SPECT studies provide a useful window into the brain of these patients and help bring together the diversity of biological findings. We have studied hundreds of children, teenagers, and adults who exhibited depressive behavior.
It is very important to determine the nature and origin of these behaviors because that will predict appropriate treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression we would love to speak with you today. Please reach out at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit.