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20% of Iranians depressed: Roll with the punches in life

TEHRAN, Aug. 30 (Mehr News Agency) -- More than one out of five Iranians suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization's East Mediterranean regional advisor. Thus, Iran has the same rate of mental illness as every other country in the world, Ahmad Mohit told the Fars News Agency in a recent interview.

"Depression, which is the most common mental disorder, affects more than 20 percent of the total population of the country," he said.

Many psychiatrists now believe that a chemical imbalance in the brain is one of the main causes of depression. The condition sometimes even leads to suicide. It can affect all aspects of human health since it often causes emotional instability, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

Depressive disorder comes in different forms. These include major depression, dysthymia, and the least common condition, bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression), which affects a person's thinking and social behavior and causes terrible mood swings.

Based on the latest national data, depression is not only the most common women's mental health problem but is most persistent in women, Mohit said.

He also expressed grave concern about the dramatic rise in drug abuse in the country, saying that official statistics show that about one million of Iran's 70 million people are drug addicts.

He pointed out that it has been proven that there is a connection between depression and addiction since depression often leads to drug abuse.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mohit said that Health Ministry statistics for the Iranian calendar year 1386 (March 2007-March 2008) show that after road accidents, depression is now the second leading cause of death, disability, and loss of the ability to work for Iranian men.

And for Iranian women in the 30-44 age group, mental illnesses are the leading cause of death, disability, and loss of the ability to work and rob these women of about 270,000 years of productive life, followed by bone and muscular diseases, which cause them to lose about 227,000 years of productive life, Mohit added.

Facts and figures

According to the World Health Organization, by the year 2020, major depression will be second only to chronic heart disease as an international health burden. This is measured by the rate at which it is cited as a cause of death, disability, and incapacity to work, and the medical resources it uses.

There are 30 working days lost due to depression and anxiety for every single day lost to industrial disputes.

According to the surveys of Psychiatric Morbidity in Great Britain, three in 10 employees will have a mental health problem in any one year, mainly depressive and anxiety disorders, and almost 1 in 4 of workplace absences (23%) have a psychological basis.

Depression in men and women

Recent national statistics show that Iranian men are less likely to suffer from mental health problems than Iranian women.

Iranian women are approximately twice as likely as Iranian men to experience depression. A number of factors, including hormonal changes and major life events, may explain this.

The difficulty of balancing the responsibilities of home and work, the stress of being a single parent, or the shock of suddenly finding oneself in a situation where one must care for both young children and aging parents are some of the other reasons why women are so vulnerable to mental disorders, depression in particular.

Women are also more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men. This could be because women are more likely to report symptoms of common mental health problems.

There is no doubt that depression is as serious a problem in men as it is in women, considering the fact that men are less likely to admit depression.

Although it is perhaps changing slowly, men have traditionally found it harder to acknowledge their feelings and the effect they have on their lives. Moreover, men's depression is often masked by the avoidance that may be characterized by drug abuse or in the habit of working excessively long hours.

Depression typically manifests itself in men not as feelings of helplessness and vulnerability but as irritability, anger, and an uncooperative attitude. Therefore, depression may be difficult to recognize as such in men. Even if a man realizes that he is depressed, he is perhaps less willing than a woman to seek help.

Tackling depression

There are many ways to address depression.

Try to surround yourself with positive thoughts, people, and books, and hold on to your faith. This is the best way to live.

We can also tackle depression by adopting an optimistic attitude, writing, painting, drawing, eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and spending time in the sunlight as well as by focusing our thoughts and feelings on the goal of achieving inner peace and happiness.

To effectively free ourselves of depressive moods, we have to discover who we are on the inside. And, in discovering who we are, we must try to accomplish tasks without placing any limitations on ourselves or punishing ourselves with guilt over past mistakes or failures. We should believe that failures and mistakes actually strengthen us. So how do failures strengthen us? It's simple. We should view them as learning experiences that teach us to avoid repeating the same mistakes rather than reasons to feel depressed.

Let's use all our strength to live and not allow ourselves to become depressed. Let's revitalize our lives, feel the rhythm of life, feel the vibes, and start living a stress-free life. Live and live positively! Let's encourage ourselves and not blame ourselves for little mishaps. We are all human and we all mess up, so it's OK. Move on, learn from past experiences, and try to be happy. Wake up and see the beauty of life!

... Payvand News - 08/30/08 ... --

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