The World Health Organisation has dedicated World Health Day on April 7 this year to talk about depression, a mental illness that more than 300 million people in the world are currently living with. Depression is being stuck in a chronic state of sadness, experiencing little happiness from day to day and can negatively affect a person’s quality of life. The disease is often referred to as the “black dog”.
Depression is linked to other disorders and diseases. It increases the risk of substance use, diabetes and heart disease. The opposite is also true with people with these other conditions prone to a higher risk of depression.
More unsettling than the wide prevalence of the illness is the fact that treating depression is still quite primitive and largely based on guesswork. Psychiatrists treat depression using cognitive behaviour therapy or by prescribing antidepressant medication or both. Cognitive behaviour therapy is a talk-based approach that gets the person in depression to recognise negative thoughts and readjust their habits to counter these thoughts. But depression is hard to understand and treat because there are many kinds of depression that can be brought on by a wide variety of biological factors and lived experiences.
Along with calling for countries around the world to invest more in treating depression, the WHO is running a year run campaign to counter the stigma associated with depression and other mental illnesses. The campaign is called “Depression: Let’s talk” because talking is the first step towards seeking treatment and towards recovery. Here are videos created by animator and writer Mather Johnstone in collaboration with the WHO about dealign with depression and what partners and care-givers should prepare for.