Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 300 million people affected.
Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10%) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.
7 most depressed countries in the world and why
The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level. As per a 2017 World Health Organization report, these are the 7 most depressed countries in the world on account of lack of awareness, lack of suitable treatment, and social stigma attached to the condition.
The country with the largest percentage of people with depression is India. The WHO says that 56 million Indians suffer from depression and an additional 38 million have anxiety disorders. Depression gets worse if not treated, and that may explain why India leads this list. The country has a shortage of qualified mental health professionals. Also, the persistent social stigmas toward mental illness likely prevents some of those affected from seeking treatment.
China is another large country with a significant mental health issue. Depression leads the way, but there are also large numbers of people who struggle to cope with anxiety and other disorders. In some ways, China’s problem with depression is like India’s. The country spends only 2.35 percent of its budget on mental health and only 15 percent of its citizens have health insurance that plays for psychiatric care. Here, too, social stigma is an issue. The WHO estimates that 91.8 percent of all Chinese people with a mental disorder such as depression will never seek help for their condition.
3. United States
The United States is still struggling to get past outdated ideas and stigmas about mental illness, which might explain by many people here don’t seek treatment for depression. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 16.1 million people age 18 or older have major depression in the United States. That translates to 6.7 percent of the adult population. The depression problem in the U.S. is compounded by the fact that in 4,000 areas identified by Mental Health America, there is a shortage of mental health professionals. While social stigma is not as strong in the U.S. as it is in India and China, there is still a tendency to believe that people with depression should be able to get over it without help.
Approximately 4.4 percent of the adult population in Brazil has depression, putting it above the world average and giving Brazil the highest incidence of depression in Latin America. Depression affects more Brazilian women than Brazilian men. In addition to depression, Brazil has a high percentage of people with anxiety disorders. And yet, ironically, it also was named the 22nd happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report.
In Indonesia, approximately 3.7 percent of the population, or nine million people, suffer from depression. When those numbers are expanded to include anxiety, they increase to 6 percent of the population over age 15. Here, as in the other countries we’ve mentioned, there is a shortage of mental health professionals to treat people who need assistance. Likewise, the social stigma against seeking psychiatric help gets in the way of treatment for some of those who need it most.
People from Russia have a reputation for being melancholy, and it turns out they have a predisposition toward depression too. According to the World Health Organization, 5.5 percent of its population has depression. Perhaps not surprisingly, suicide has been a serious issue in Russia too. As of 2012, the country’s rate of teenage suicide was three times higher than the world average. There is a heavy correlation between depression, alcoholism and suicide.
In Pakistan, reports say that one-third of the population suffers from stress, depression or anxiety. However, these diseases are difficult to track due to the lack of reporting. Part of the problem is that Pakistan has only 750 trained psychiatrists. That translates to one doctor for every 10,000 patients with a mental disorder.