Depression in the Mideast reaches alarming levels

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Updated 07 January 2013

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.

Discover Bahrain's Indigo Restaurant’s rooftop riches

Enjoy Asian-Mediterranean flavors at Bahrain’s five-star boutique hotel. (Supplied)
Updated 23 August 2019

Discover Bahrain's Indigo Restaurant’s rooftop riches

MANAMA: You wouldn’t expect to find a palatial and tranquil rooftop restaurant smack in the middle of Bahrain’s oldest and busiest commercial center, the Manama Souq. Yet just a few meters from the iconic 70-year old Bab Al Bahrain lies Indigo Restaurant, the in-house eatery of five-star boutique hotel The Merchant House.

From the moment you step into the restaurant foyer, this fine-dining establishment promises respite from the summer heat, traffic snarls and mayhem of the capital city down below. Once seated, take a moment to appreciate the stately décor. With plenty of floral furnishing, flora, and foliage in aureate lighting, it’s like sitting in a greenhouse (without the heat). Add in the rustic wood furniture and striking artwork (by local Bahraini artists) and Indigo Restaurant is an ideal venue for both a casual evening sipping mocktails with friends or a celebratory three-course meal with that special someone.

Large French doors open onto an expansive terrace with mist machines, a trickling pool, backyard lighting, and no-fuss seating. It’s a fairytale setting worthy of staging a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The menu is a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean food, so patrons can expect a lot of fresh, seasonal ingredients paired with piquant Asian flavors. Take, for example, the restaurant’s best-selling appetizer, the Beef Rib Samjang — cherry wood-smoked beef rib served with Korean-style sweet-chili sauce atop crisp, Belgian endive. The appetizer comes with a side of the pipirrana salad — a Spanish classic. A simple goat-cheese salad is elevated with marinated figs, lavash crisps, and a Japanese-style yuzu hazelnut dressing.

To create such distinctive flavors, executive chef Robert Shipman draws on his two decades of experience in southern Europe and, later, with chef Nobu Matsuhisa (of the acclaimed Nobu Restaurant in Dubai and the more recent Nobu Jeddah pop-up). Shipman specializes in Asian cuisine and is renowned for his Greek-Japanese fusion meals in Cyprus. He also brings flavors from the Maldives, Ibiza, and Morocco to Indigo’s menu. Alongside cured and raw meats and sushi, the menu also features a small selection of burgers, including classics like mushroom and Wagyu burgers. The pasta and risotto offerings — tagliatelle Napolitana, risotto funghi, and prawn tagiatelle — are kept strictly Italian.

Shipman says he defers to restaurant patrons for a winning menu. A main that has won the popular vote is the sesame and nigella seed crusted and sautéed hammour. The crunch of the outer crust compliments the soft meat of the fillet and the accompanying bok choy and Moroccan chermoula sauce lend bitter and sweet flavors.

Although the flavor pairings remain more or less the same — meat slow-cooked with balsamic sauce, garlic, and thyme — Shipman’s 18-hour lamb shank stands out from those on other menus in the region. The lamb comes apart effortlessly, giving you a mouthful of meat soaked in balsamic sauces, buttery-soft herb polenta, and dry cherry. It is an ambrosial main.

A summer night calls for a light desert, and the frutti di bosco hits the right spot with assorted forest berries, airy honeycomb crisp, crème de Violette marshmallows, and a dollop of passion cream to offset the tartness of the berries. The Kaffir lime panna cotta with fresh mango sauce, and the yuzu white chocolate cheesecake with walnut halva also come highly recommended, but there is only so much one can devour in an evening. Still, the fresh flavors and the summer garden are enough incentive to come back for more.