7th April 2017, Rachel Stuff, CIPD

It’s with good reason that the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) World Health Day on 7 April will focus on depression. Depression is the largest cause of disability worldwide and, at worst, can lead to suicide, says the WHO. More than 80% of this disease burden is among people living in low- and middle-income countries.

In the UK, one in six adults met the criteria for a common mental disorder in 2014, according to the latest official data. This means that most of us will have either experienced depression ourselves or know someone who has – even if you are not aware of it.

Depression is one of the most common types of mental ill health, and it can be hard to pin down a precise definition. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) describes it as ‘a broad and heterogeneous diagnosis’, and ‘central to it is depressed mood and/or loss of pleasure in most activities.’ Like many mental health conditions, depression can cover a broad spectrum: mental health charity Mind says that: ‘in its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.’

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