Medics have said depression is the leading cause of deaths and affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Dr. Felicien Ntone Ntone, a psychiatrist at the University Teaching Hospital in yaounde said even though Cameroon does not have statistics on the number of people living with depression, the World Health Organisation says more than 300 million people are now living with depression. “For now, Cameroon does not have the financial capacity to conduct a survey which can give a clear picture of the burden. But what I can tell you is that everyone at one point in time suffers from depression. Everyone is at risk of developing the disorder as it affects people of all ages, from all works of life and in all countries, and it is currently a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease” he said.
Defining the disease, the medic said depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness, loss of interest and ability to perform daily activities for a period of over two weeks. “It is associated with feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness and poor concentration. Major causes of depression include loss of loved ones or relationships, poverty, unemployment, physical illnesses, alcohol abuse, drug use and traumatic situations such as violence and war”.
The medic called on government and persons of good will to support mental health programmes by allocating adequate human and financial resources to respond to this growing burden.
“As we commemorate World Health Day, I appeal to government and benevolent organisations to include mental health in their national health development agenda. The Brazzaville Declaration on Non-communicable Diseases states the necessary steps for achieving this. More broadly, governments, partners and civil society can work together to bring depression out of the shadows in the Region.
The World Health Organisation defines depression as a common mental disorder that presents with persistent low mood (sadness) or loss of interest in pleasurable activities. At the extreme, recurrent thoughts about death and acts of self-harm or suicide are common. The condition commonly follows difficult life events such as bereavement or job loss, but can also develop out of the blue with no clear precipitating events.