mental health
Stock photo of a woman with depression in Mexico City. EFE / Juan Carlos Hidalgo

Mexico City, Jan 13 (EFE).- The effects on mental health caused by the pandemic by covid-19 will continue to be seen for at least a decade and the stigma that exists around these diseases will continue to complicate diagnosis and treatment, experts from Mexico said on Thursday.

“In the next decade, the consequences of mental health will continue to be addressed in the population living in the context of the pandemic today,” neuropsychiatrist Edilberto Peña told Efe.

On World Day to Fight Depression, which is commemorated every January 13, the director of the Center for Research on the Nervous System (Cisne) Mexico, said that depression is a complex, chronic and recurrent disease that affects more than 280 million people worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that in Latin America 5% of the adult population of productive age suffers from some type of depression.

Peña indicated that this condition has been made visible as never before by the covid-19 pandemic, because its incidence has increased by up to 20% in some countries such as Mexico.

«Anxiety has also increased by 50%; while the suicide attempt up to 40%, “he lamented.

According to the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association, since 2020 depression is the main mental illness in the country and the covid-19 pandemic increased this problem.

“This is due not only to confinement, but also to the loss of jobs, of loved ones,” explained the expert.

GENETIC ISSUE

Jacqueline Cortés, psychiatrist and president of the Mexican Psychiatric Association, explained that depression is a hereditary disease, although this does not necessarily mean that someone with depressed parents has to develop the condition.

“Children of depressed parents are two or three times more at risk of suffering from depression than those children of non-depressive parents,” he pointed out.

However, he acknowledged that the pandemic has caused those who had this risk, debuted with depression in the last two years, derived from the restrictions due to the health emergency.

He noted that it is critical to identify the symptoms of depression.

These are detected when people experience sadness, irritability, a feeling of emptiness, or a loss of enjoyment or interest in activities, most of the day, almost every day.

In addition, there are other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, low self-esteem, sleep disturbances and fluctuations in weight.

BARRIERS TO COMBAT IT

The experts pointed out that although it is a more recognized disease, there are still some barriers to its treatment.

“Self-stigma and underdiagnosis are the main barriers we face,” said Peña.

And he pointed out that myths and the social context of people often complicate the diagnosis and that the appropriate treatment is reached.

He highlighted that another problem is that the number of specialists does not cover the demand for care; in Mexico, for example, there are only 5,000 psychiatrists to serve more than 126 million people.

For this reason, he said, the number of patients treated in Latin America is only one third of those living with the disease.

“Unfortunately, mental illnesses continue without treatment,” he insisted.

That is why the experts made a call to raise awareness about this disease and eliminate stigmata.

“A person with depression is not weak or lazy; he is a sick person. Specialized medical attention is required for its timely diagnosis and treatment, “said Cortés.

“No person deserves to live depressed,” he concluded.

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