Spotlight on Depression
By Dr. Hamda Al Nashmi
Psychiatry Specialist at Hamad Hospital
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the world. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from it.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
In Qatar, studies show that approximately 18% of the population suffers from depression.
The most vulnerable age groups are 18-30, and 65 years and over. Women are more vulnerable to depression because of the hormonal changes they experience during puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.
Causes of Depression
The causes of depression are multiple and complex, usually involving social, psychological and biological factors. Those suffering from difficult life events (unemployment, fear, loss or trauma) are more likely to succumb to the condition. Depression can lead to increased stress, inability to perform functions, poor living conditions, and suicidal thoughts. Genetics play a role; those with a first-degree relative suffering from depression or brain hormone disorders are at higher risk. In particular the lack of hormonal serotonin and epinephrine, and exposure to stress of life, for example loss of mother, father or life-partner, are common causes of depression.
Depression in Children
Depression also affects 1-3% of children. Girls are twice as likely to be affected as boys, especially in adolescence. Children may become depressed as a result of:
- Problems at school
- Academic pressure or failure
- Parents separating, or loss of a parent
- Differences with family members or friends
- Geneteics also play a role in children’s depression
Symptoms of Depression in Children
The symptoms include:
- Violence and obstinacy
- Multiple physical symptoms such as headaches and unexplained abdominal pain
- Sleep disturbances and nightmares
- Being isolated, not caring about or wanting to go to school
Depression can negatively affect academic achievement and may lead to self-harm attempts or drug use as a way to relieve stress. Here lies the importance of parents’ role to attend to such symptoms and speak to a specialist psychiatrist as soon as possible to get appropriate treatment and avoid the development of the situation.
As mental health workers, we face many difficulties: the most important of which is the stigma attached to mental illness in our Gulf societies, where parents are reluctant to go to the mental health hospital for fear of staining the family’s reputation. We are fully aware of this belief, which continues to this day. Qualified psychiatrists are present in many hospitals, health, and educational facilities, so there may not be any need to visit a mental health hospital.
How The Government Fights Depression
The Healthcare Communications Committee of the Department of Mental Health is raising awareness with social occasions and events, and was recently active on World Health Day under the theme: Depression. The Department of Mental Health gave lectures in universities and malls, as well as many local television and press interviews, which aimed to raise awareness of the nature of mental illness and encourage people to seek help from specialists.
How To Ask For Help
Psychiatric clinics are available at Al Wakra Hospital, Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital and Psychiatry Clinics at Hamad Hospital.
An integrated medical team is also available to review psychiatric cases at the emergency department at Hamad General Hospital, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.