Depression: A Worldwide Problem

The United States, through widespread advocacy and education, is finally moving toward a better understanding of clinical depression. But this psychiatric condition continues to be misunderstood on a global level.

According to a study of more than 50,000 people in 21 countries, approximately 350 million individuals are impacted by depression. And yet, the vast majority of these people remain untreated, due to stigma or a lack of knowledge.

The study was conducted by researchers from King’s College London, Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organization. It was discovered that in the poorest countries, one in 27 people with depression received basic care for their condition; but even in the wealthiest countries, only one in five people with depression sought care.

Much of this lack of therapy was the result of public ignorance; most people did not know that they had a treatable condition. In Nigeria, only a third of those with depression knew they had a diagnosable problem and that something could be done about it. The problem is only exacerbated by the dearth of trained counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists throughout the world.

Religion can also prove a complicating factor. An individual afflicted by crippling depression might be viewed as experiencing bad karma from a previous life.

The hope remains that through studies such as this one, greater understanding, recognition and proper diagnosis of this psychiatric disorder can be increased on a global level.