The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts that depression will be the single largest contributor to the burden of disease worldwide by 2030 if we don’t do something about it. At the moment, only 15% of those who suffer a severe mental disorder receive treatment. That means that there is another 85% that is out there struggling to survive. People with mental disorders have high mortality and comorbidity rates – this means that if a person is suffering from a mental disorder it is likely that they are also suffering from a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, etc., that may lead to serious consequences.
In Asia alone 450 million people suffer from a mental illness or neurological disorder, with the Philippines having the highest incidence rate of depression in Southeast Asia (WHO, 2011). There are about 4.5 million Filipinos today who are reported to have depression with only 1 in 3 who seek help.
How does depression occur?
Described as a low mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, depression can occur in any of the following ways – it may be hereditary (meaning, someone in the family has had depression or is suffering from it, so the chances of it occurring may be very high), it could also be due to lifestyle choices and behavior, or due to a very stressful event (wherein the definition of high stress may vary from person to person). I also learned in recent years that depression could be a result of poor nutrition, food intolerances, and a decline in hormones among many other things. And where science has began to explore the various ways in which external and internal variables may contribute to the onset of depression, the data has also given me hope.
As it turns out, depression can in fact be prevented from occurring and recurring. The only reason why we haven’t given our brains the kind of care that it needs is because aside from a common headache or migraine, the brain does not show any other symptoms of pain when it has been overworked - making it the most neglected part of our body.
75% of our brains are composed of water. This assists in processing all activity, making sure that all brain functions are working properly. However when we experience dehydration, the brain begins to slow down, and the body slips into survival mode immediately, increasing cortisol and storing excess fat. Here are some ways in which you can start taking care of your brain to prevent the onset of depression:
1. Take good care of your body - learn to pay attention to the signals of your body. Eat right, sleep well, and move as often as possible to fire up the healthy neurons
2. Talk therapy - there’s nothing like talking to a professional about your problems to allow you some form of catharsis. Talk therapy helps release the energy that would have otherwise been stored in the body (that may later on lead to disease).
3. Welcome more people into your tribe - studies have shown that it is lack of belonging that can often lead to co-morbid disorders such as depression and addiction. Expand your circle of friends and welcome more people into your conversations.
Let’s start helping each other and change the forecast of 2030. We still have a few years to show more love, hold bigger space, and treat ourselves better in order to prevent depression from occurring and recurring.
Sending you all hope,