From the April 2017 Newsletter of Michael D. Yapko, PhD link to Michael’s site
Depression Has Reached Number One.
Late last week (March 30th), the World Health Organization (WHO) released a powerful statement from its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, declaring depression “the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.” WHO estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide are now suffering a diagnosable depression. This reflects an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.
Dr. Margaret Chan is the WHO Director-General, and she has been a strong advocate for a public education campaign to encourage more people to get the help they need. She said, “These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves.”
April 7th is World Health Day, and WHO will highlight its “Depression: Let’s Talk” campaign, encouraging people to begin to talk openly about their depression and start to get the help they need.
When I (Yapko) wrote Depression is Contagious, I focused on the same theme I address in my clinical trainings: depression is far more a social problem than a medical one. The rapid rise of depression in just a few years reflects the chaotic world we live in, evidenced by our individual and collective higher levels of distress in many life arenas.
Medicalizing depression has done a great disservice to people by misleading them into thinking the problem is in their neurochemistry rather than their circumstances and their depressing perspectives about their circumstances. The scientific evidence has grown exponentially in recent years that makes it clear we need to do much more to help people than drug them with medications of questionable safety and efficacy.
Therapists have a special and vital role to play in addressing the social contagion of depression. To fulfill that role, therapists will need to be far more proactive in doing more than just treating individuals who are already depressed, important as that is. They must also be proactive in challenging the limitations of the biological view of depression when it ignores a social viewpoint and strive to help create social conditions that empower people. Without an awareness of the many ways our relationships create vulnerabilities to depression, we run the risk of trying to empty the depression ocean with only a bucket of misguided hope.
Here’s the link to the news release from WHO:
On Technology and its Effect on Human Complexity
David Brooks, author of The Social Animal (a great read on love character and achievement) wrote the New York Times how technology-driven losses in attention span are interfering with our ability to become deep and complex people.
On Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD
French child psychiatrists,… view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context.
On Depression and Bullying
Michael D. Yapko, PhD., psychologist, depression expert, wrote this article in his June 17, 2015 newsletter on the link between being bullied, being a bully in teen years and depression in adulthood.
Teen Bullying Associated with Adult Depression
In a recent online article in the British Medical Journal (BMI, June 2, 2015), researcher Lucy Bowes et.al. conducted one of the largest long term studies on the relationship between being a victim of bullying at age 13 and depression at 18 years.
This was a longitudinal observational study using a UK community based birth cohort to identify the participants. Of the 6719 participants who reported bullying at age 13 years, there were data available on almost 4000 of these individuals addressing depression at age18.
Results indicated that there was almost a 30% chance that if a person was depressed at age 18 that it could be largely attributed to suffering bullying at an earlier age.
In 2013, a study was published in the U.S. that identified increased risks of psychiatric disorders on bullies only, victims only, and bullies and victims combined.
Rates of depression, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, panic disorder and suicidality were all elevated and bullies were at risk for antisocial personality disorder.
The researchers concluded, “The effects of being bullied are direct, pleiotropic, and long-lasting, with the worst effects for those who are both victims and bullies.”
The bottom line regarding these studies is that they are documenting what we already know about the association between early victimization and an increased risk of internalizing problems in childhood. As a result, without the proper skills to manage these episodes of victimization, the potential result is an increased population of depressed individuals.
Given the cost to the individual sufferer and the cost to society as a whole, these studies support the need to address bullying early on to help reduce the potential development of adult depression.
Michael has included a number of bullying-prevention resources on his website for those interested in making a difference in this arena.
Reference: Medscape Medical News June 12, 2015 by Megan Brooks
Original Article published online BMJ 2015;350:h2469
JAMA Psychiatry. 2013 Apr;70(4):419-26. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504