Consultant Psychiatrist at the Psychiatric Unit, Doctor Griffin Benjamin, has said that one in ten people will be diagnosed with a depressive illness in Dominica every year.
Speaking at a function on mental illness on Tuesday, he said the condition is a leading cause of disability, the largest contributor to disease burden and is one of the most lethal mental illness there is.
“One in ten persons will be diagnosed with a depressive illness in our little Dominica every year,” he noted.
According to Dr. Benjamin, it was predicted in 2001 that depression would become the leading cause of disability by 2020.
“We are in 2017 and it is already at that level,” he stated.
He pointed out that the condition will be the largest contributor to the disease burden.
“In other words, government when it spends money on health, is now finding that depression is the most expensive disease to treat,” he remarked. “Not heart disease as we all thought and all the other conditions that we like to spend money on. If we want a productive people, 3 percent of the (national) budget is not enough to spend on mental illness and we say we need to spend more.”
Additionally he stated depression is the most lethal mental illness there is.
“In other words, we find that suicide, is more likely to be related to depression,” he noted. “It is prevalent around the world.”
Dr. Benjamin pointed to the impact of depression on society and the economy.
“People who get depressed are the one leaving work earlier, retiring earlier because they cannot stand the pressure of getting up every morning and going to work or even if they go to work just to keep the salary coming in, they take sick leave regularly and the sick leave is costing them and the employer and the government heavily,” he stated.
He pointed to underperformance on the job, lack of concentration, inability to paying attention and poor memory as the impacts of depression on the work place.
He stated that data shows that depression is on the rise in Dominica.
“Data collected from the social security system, we found that depression was very seldom handled by doctors,” Dr. Benjamin said. “I know why but if you look at the trend, in 2011 of the total number of sick leave written 0.1 percent was for depression by 2015 in four, five years it went up to 0.5 percent of the total, so that trend will continue , that is significant…”
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
The association said depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Symptoms of depression include:
-Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
-Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
-Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
-Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
-Loss of energy or increased fatigue
-Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
-Feeling worthless or guilty
-Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
-Thoughts of death or suicide