Rising depression rates reveal huge gaps in treatment for sufferers

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Image of WHO’s “Depression: Let’s Talk campaign”. Image: WHO

Depression is a far more common mental illness than many people realize and the number of sufferers is growing, UN health experts said on Thursday.

In a bid to raise awareness about the issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that more than 300 million people live with the condition – an 18 per cent increase between 2005 and 2015.

Poorer nations suffer most, with little or no help available for those who need it, the health agency said.

Daniel Johnson has more.

New estimates from the UN on depression indicate that more than one in 25 people suffer from the illness.

It's more common among women than men and has become the leading cause of disability in the world.

But too little is being done about it.

Here's Dr Dan Chisholm from the World Health Organization, which is behind the "Depression: Let's Talk campaign:"

"It is a big problem, not least because the treatment gap, the number of people I need who are getting   care is extremely low; in low and middle-income countries it's as little as five per cent, so that's a 95 per cent treatment gap for these disorders; so that's a huge concern."

Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and all countries.

This is especially true of low and middle-income countries, which are home to more than 80 per cent of all sufferers, according to the latest WHO data.

This figure is set to grow in line with rising populations, the agency says, although there have been clear spikes in countries affected by natural disaster, sickness or conflict.

In a related call for action, WHO also wants to see more done to prevent suicide.

It became the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year-olds in 2015 and claimed nearly 800,000 lives in total.

Men are more likely to take their lives in higher-income countries, while the opposite is true in poorer nations, WHO says.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’30″

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