Depression in the Mideast reaches alarming levels

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Updated 07 January 2013
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Depression in the Mideast reaches alarming levels

JEDDAH: Depression is a common mental health disorder, affecting more than 350 million people of all ages worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2001, the WHO identified depression as the fourth leading cause of disability and premature death in the world. It is projected to become the leading cause of burden of disease by 2030.
Addressing the growing unmet need for developing better understanding of psychiatric diseases including major depressive disorder (MDD) in Saudi Arabia, the capital city, Riyadh recently hosted a national mental health forum supported by the Ministry of Health in which psychiatrists and experts provided profound insight into the proper management of MMD, consultancy guidelines and treatment options.
A new study found that the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia has a very high rate of major depression compared to the rest of the world — almost 7 percent. This figure is especially concerning due to a recent link found between depression and patients’ functional impairment. As the severity of depression increases, so does the level of impairment in social, familial and work role functioning.
As an example demonstrating the regional burden of depression, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry highlighted the large gap in the Middle East region between the number of people needing and actually receiving treatment for depression. Furthermore, the World Health Organization notes more than 75 percent of people with depression in developing countries are inadequately treated, with mental health one of the most neglected, yet essential, development issues in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals one and five.
Demonstrating the local burden, in Saudi Arabia, more than 201,000 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost from depression in a year. DALYs is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years of potential life lost due to premature death and the years of productive life lost due to disability.
The study included a ranking of some of the countries in the Middle East most profoundly burdened with depression. Egypt ranked first in terms of DALYs with a staggering figure of 622,000, followed by Saudi Arabia with 201,000 DALYs, Syria 156,000 DALYs, UAE 39,000 DALYs and finally Lebanon 37,000 DALYs lost form depression.
A recently published analysis shows there is also a link between MDD treatment and improvement in functional impairment. The analysis suggests that there is a significant relationship between measures of depression symptom severity, functional impairment and emotional well being. Healthcare providers are increasingly using scales, such as Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), to measure disability and impairment to improve MDD treatment management, which has led to the improvement in the health care of patients with depression. Thus, it is important that patients consult their doctor so they can be properly diagnosed and ensure their condition is managed effectively.
“Almost 1 in 10 of those who live in the Middle East suffer from MDD. For those individuals, studies show that functional impairment with work, school, family and social life is likely also present, and rises with the severity of their depression. For that reason, it is critical to identify MDD, and offer treatment to patients as early as possible.” said Dr. Suhail Abdul Hamid Khan.
Current leading guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) recommend selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), as a first-line treatment for depression. According to the APA, “The initial selection of an antidepressant medication will largely be based on the anticipated side effects, the safety or tolerability of these side effects for the individual patient, and the pharmacological properties of the medication.”
New treatment options launched in Saudi Arabia for depression have proven to be of great efficiency and safety for patients. Based on clinical research, the newly approved treatments can offer favorable tolerability – meaning discontinuation rates on the drug were similar to a placebo in the trial.


Scientists reveal “ideal diet” for peoples’ and planet’s health

Updated 17 January 2019
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Scientists reveal “ideal diet” for peoples’ and planet’s health

  • If the world followed the “Planetary Health” diet, more than 11 million premature deaths could be prevented each year
  • Many life-threatening chronic diseases are linked to poor diets, including obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and several types of cancer

LONDON: Scientists have unveiled what they say is an ideal diet for the health of the planet and its populations — including a doubling of consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and a halving of meat and sugar intake.
If the world followed the “Planetary Health” diet, the researchers said, more than 11 million premature deaths could be prevented each year, while greenhouse gas emissions would be cut and more land, water, and biodiversity would be preserved.
“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a professor at Britain’s University of London who co-led the research.
Feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 with a healthy, sustainable diet will be impossible without transforming eating habits, improving food production and reducing food waste, he said. “We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before.”
Many life-threatening chronic diseases are linked to poor diets, including obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and several types of cancer. The researchers said unhealthy diets currently cause more death and disease worldwide than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.
The proposed planetary diet is the result of a three-year project commissioned by The Lancet health journal and involving 37 specialists from 16 countries.
It says global average consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar should be cut by 50 percent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes should double.
For individual regions, this could mean even more dramatic changes: People in North America, for example, eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while people in South Asia eat only half the amount suggested by the planetary diet.
Meeting the targets for starchy vegetables such as potatoes and cassava would need big changes in sub-Saharan Africa, where people on average eat 7.5 times the suggested amount.
Presenting the diet at a briefing on Wednesday, the researchers said they acknowledged it was very ambitious to hope to get everyone in the world to adopt it, not least because there is vast global inequality of access to food.
“More than 800 million people have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease,” said Walter Willett of Harvard University in the United States.
“If we can’t quite make it, it’s better to try and get as close as we can,” he said.