Depression brings worries for Middle East

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Depression. According to an expert, almost 1 in 10 of those who live in the Middle East is suffering from Major Depressive Disorder. Photo-Lloyd Morgan

A new study has warned that growing depression among Middle East population could result in impairment of social, familial and work role functioning.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the study points out that almost 7 percent of population in Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, is affected by depression. It highlights that there is a significant gap between the number of people showing signs of depression and those actually receiving treatment for it in the Middle East.

It is estimated that in Saudi Arabia alone, more than 201,000 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost from depression annually. Egypt ranks first in disability-adjusted life years lost from depression with 622,000 DALYs.

Depression has been identified as the fourth leading cause of disability and premature death in the world, affecting over 350 million people of all age groups. The disease is expected to become a leading cause of burden of disease by 2030. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 75 percent of depressed people in developing countries are inadequately treated for mental health issues. As a result of poor treatment, many patients suffer from functional impairment and emotional trauma.

Dr Suhail Abdul Hamid Khan, General Manager, Jeddah, “almost 1 in 10 of those who live in the Middle East is suffering from MDD. For those individuals, studies show that functional impairment with work, school, family and social life is likely present, and rises with the severity of their depression. For that reason, it is critical to identify MDD, and offer treatment and proper management to patients as early as possible.”

The good news is that governments in Middle East are taking active steps to create better understanding of psychiatric diseases, including Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). A national mental health forum, supported by the Ministry of Health Riyadh, was also recently organized to help create awareness about prevention, promotion and treatment services, to reduce burden of the disease.


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