World Mental Health Day- A Call To Action

Today is recognized as World Mental Health Day throughout the world, with the focus this year on suicide prevention. According to the World Health Organization, about 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide each year. In addition, the week of October 6-12 is recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week in the U.S.  This will be our 100th post, and I can’t think of a more worthy health issue for this milestone. Today’s post will focus on just published research on depression in adolescents, a group at particularly high risk for suicide.

Data from the CDC from 2014 indicate about 11% of American youth had a major depressive disorder during the previous year, with the 2014 rate being a higher prevalence than the rate reported just ten years earlier (9%). Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016. Between 1999 and 2016 suicides rates increased in most states. In Idaho for example, the suicide rate rose 43.2%. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for those in the 15-24 age range.

A recently published study from India looked at the prevalence of depression among teenagers in West Godavari India. The Beck Depression Inventory, a validated self-reported screening tool was used. The Beck Depression Inventory was first published in 1961 by Dr. Adam T. Beck, and revised in 1978 and 1996. A total of 1015 subjects participated in the study between October 2018 and July 2019. Participants were roughly divided evenly between boys and girls. The higher the score on the Beck Inventory, the more severe depressive symptoms are indicated. The participants were queried regarding their feelings during the prior two weeks.

33.9% of subjects scored in the “minimal” range, and 21.9% in the “mild” range. The results of the study for the more severely impaired subjects were quite startling, with 29.5% scoring in the “moderate” range, and 14.7% scoring in the “severe” range. The prevalence of severe depression was statistically higher in females.

The results of this study show an incredibly high prevalence of depression among teenagers in India. Data from the CDC indicate similar findings in the U.S., with about 7.6% of Americans age 12 and over suffering from depression in any two week period. The symptoms of depression in teenagers can be subtle, and are often confused with the moodiness which is common in this age group. 

Today is also National Depression Screening Day. Interestingly, more than half of the individuals who die by suicide do not have a known mental health diagnosis. This may be because they have not yet sought medical help. If you or someone you care about is exhibiting signs of depression such as lack of energy, issues with sleep or eating, withdrawal from friends or lack of concentration, please seek help from a medical or mental health professional. A simple office visit may be all that’s needed to be evaluated and determine a treatment plan and begin the path to feeling better. This may well be the best way to honor World Mental Health Day.

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”–  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Source- International Journal of Scientific Research, Volume 8, Issue 9, September 2019)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.


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