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The island’s Chief Medical Officer has reacted to a WHO report suggesting that depression is now the number one cause of poor health and disability worldwide currently affecting over three million people.

The report comes ahead of world Health Day on April 7th. It will focus on the Theme “Depression: Lets Talk”

According to the WHO findings the rates of depression have increased by more than 18 percent since 2005. It adds that a lack of support for mental health combined with stigma and fear associated with depression, means that many patients do not get the treatment they need and are left to suffer silently.

The WHO’s Director General Margaret Chan says the new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to rethink their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency it deserves.

Dr Merlene Fredericks says a series of activities have been planned by the Ministry of Health in St Lucia, to address widely held misconceptions about the mental illness.

Meanwhile, National Epidemiologist Nahum Jn Baptiste remarked that it is difficult to determine the prevalence of depression because many people suffer in silence.

Depression is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer.

In addition, people with depression normally experience loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

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