May is mental health awareness month. Everyone reading this blog has been personally affected by a mental health issue either because they have struggled personally or an immediate family member has been affected. An April JAMA article references a new World Health Organization report which show us that world wide, depression is the leading cause of disability.
The proportion of the global population living with depression is estimated to be 322 million people which is 4.4% of the world’s population. The report, “Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates,” has been released by the World Health Organization. Although depression can affect anyone at any point in their lives, it is 1.5 times more common in women than men. Almost half the number of people living with depression reside in South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. Poverty, unemployment, life events, and illness increase the risk of depression.
While that is what the report says, it is interesting to note that some of the highest rates of depression are to be found in the affluent western world which, by comparison, should be a veritable paradise compared to many of these countries. It’s hard to buy the poverty, unemployment, illness argument for depression when you read the tabloid headlines of the rich and famous in the grocery store checkout isle. It’s obvious that the struggle for meaning and purpose in life is something that is affected by circumstances but not defined by it. This is a fundamental struggle, common to all people, that has to do with whether we are accidents of nature or created for a purpose.