Why depression is on the rise!

What actually is depression?

Depression is a multifaceted illness that does not discriminate between, age, gender, religion or your social standing in society.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, globally over 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. That is a staggering amount of people around the world who are dealing with mental disorders. Yet even in 2020 the topic of depression is rarely spoken about openly.

It is very likely that you will know someone who has or is suffering from depression, or maybe even yourself have suffered from it.

If you break your leg more than likely you will have an Orthopedic cast provided to support the bones so that they can heal. If you have depression there is no cast or evidence visible to other people that you are dealing with a mental disorder. Depressed people don’t walk about with long faces, or look like their going to cry any moment.

Millions of people who suffer from depression carry on with their lives and put on a mask so that they can exist. Paradoxically by keeping the mask on and not dealing with the depression can make things worse.

Getting diagnosed

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 (DSM-5) outlines the following criteria to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must experience five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

You can see that the diagnosis of depression does not come about lightly, to add to this mix many people will fit this criterion for many years without realizing they have depression. For them this is just life and they don’t know any different.


Suicidal ideation basically means the individual wants to take their own life or is considering suicide. It’s important to note that there are two distinct types of suicidal ideation. Passive suicidal ideation this is when you wish you were dead or you could die, however, you don’t plan to act on it. A much more serious one is active suicidal ideation this refers to an individual not only thinking about it but having the intent to take their life.

Suicide does not have one single cause, it could take one single traumatic incident for someone to take their own life. For others it could be substance abuse or untreated depression over a long period of time.

According to WHO there over 800,000 reported cases of suicide every year, one person dies every 40 seconds.

Contributing factors

There are many factors that contribute to the onset of depression, such as biological factors (physical illness, genetics) psychological factors (stress, loss, self-esteem) and social factors (social isolation, family conflict). This is known as the Biopsychosocial Model of Depression.

why depression is on the rise
Photo by HGI

This complex interrelationship of these areas makes it a difficult process when assessing an individual for treatment. Specific psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may work for one person but not another, but both may be diagnosed with depression.

You may ask as do other people, why the rise in depression rates. The answer to this is not straight forward as society is very diverse. Globalization with its promise of a better world has its part to play in the rise of depression as do many other factors. We have to be cautious against drawing any single factor for the rise in depression rates.

Below are just some of the possible reasons as to why depression is on the rise.

  • Male identity has changed, men are struggling with the shift of their roles in society and at home. Jobs such as physical labor and manufacturing are being overtaken by technology or jobs moving to other countries. Men are no longer always the breadwinners.
  • The younger generation who grew up with technology and social media are more isolated and fragmented and find it difficult to build meaningful connections are more likely to get depressed and self-harm. So social media is actually anti-social.
  • Modernity has provided us with many positive things, at the same time we are overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sleep-deprived and disconnected. These factors contribute to the rise in depression rates.

What is clear when you look at the facts about mental disorders is that its always better to reach out and ask for help. There really is no shame in asking for help. There are various treatments available including, medication and psychological therapies

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I help individuals and couples deal with various types of emotional pain, ranging from couples dealing with relational distress to individuals going through depression, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety.

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I believe that therapy should be a positive experience, but at the same time challenging. Without challenges, change is more difficult. I like to explain the process of therapy so you understand it without using jargon and complicated paperwork. At the same time therapy is not a walk in the park, it will require all parties to work at achieving emotional wellness.

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