The theme for World Health Day this year is depression.
According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.
Women are two to three times more likely than men to suffer from depression. The underlying cause of depression in women is a combination of changes in brain chemistry, stress, trauma and genetics. It’s a common mental disorder that causes mental anguish and impacts one’s mental and physical abilities. This makes it harder for women of all ages and mothers to carry out even the simplest of everyday tasks.
Information and statistics about the impact of depression on woman globally are daunting. Here’s a snapshot:
- According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14 to 23 percent of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
- 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- Approximately 600,000 women get postpartum depression each year in the United States alone.
- 20 percent of mothers in developing countries experience clinical depression after childbirth.
- A Child Trends’ study found that more than half of a group of low-income mothers felt down, depressed, or hopeless in the past year and almost a third had those feelings combined with a lack of interest or pleasure in doing things.
- Untreated depression can lead to poor nutrition, drinking, smoking, and suicidal behavior, which can then cause premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems.
- Babies born to mothers who are depressed may be less active, show less attention and be more agitated than babies born to moms who are not depressed.
Motherhood can be a lonely experience, but the important thing to remember is that as mothers, we are not alone. Fortunately, depression can be lifted and treated. It’s important to talk about depression and to hear stories from other women experiencing the same symptoms.
Take Chrissy Teigen, for example. After giving birth to her daughter, Luna, last April, she developed postpartum depression and started to talk about it. She recently shared her experience with postpartum depression with Glamour Magazine.
I just didn’t think it could happen to me. I have a great life. I have all the help I could need: John, my mother (who lives with us), a nanny. But postpartum does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do.
Teigen talks about the importance of having people around her that care, as well as the right medical team. She speaks of good days and bad days and says that “just merely being open about it helps.” Recovery is about support and being honest with everyone, as well as yourself.
Talking about how we feel is the best way to treat depression, so #LetsTalk.
Take action challenge
- Visit WHO to get the facts on depression and learn how you can join their #LetsTalk campaign
- Do you feel that you are suffering from depression? To read more stories from women who have struggled with postpartum depression, click here.
- Tweet about your experience to make others aware that help is available using hashtag #LetsTalk.
- Share this post with your family and friends, and start a conversation about depression.