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Dealing With Depression
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Dealing With Depression

Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi last week called on pertinent organizations to do a thorough assessment of the state of mental health in the country and the motives contributing to risky social behavior and suicidal tendencies.
“As the rate of depression is high in the country (12% of the 80 million population), the issue demands social and medical attention,” he said at a recent conference on “Preventing High-Risk Social Behaviors”, ISNA reported.
The pattern in depressive behavior and suicide attempts cannot necessarily be blamed on economic woes, since countries such as Scandinavia and Japan, which have advanced economies, are grappling with extremely high rates of suicide, he recalled.
Depression, substance abuse, or domestic violence, the minister said, are only partly to blame for the motive behind suicide attempts.
“It seems to me that psychological issues and mental health need a thorough study and assessment and have to be discussed,” he said, expressing his ministry’s readiness to cooperate with the State Welfare Organization in extending support to those in need.
The most effective way to prevent social aberrations and disorders is self-care and self-empowerment. “Prevention is not possible without empowerment, and that is not something the government can do.  It is the responsibility of related associations and welfare organizations. But there will be support from the government.”
He urged the mass media to raise awareness and be proactive “in preventing a copycat epidemic” in the country, where the report of one incident can trigger another. “Reporting is a daunting task and a double-edged sword. Managing and presenting the news flow in a way that both reflects the truth on the one hand, and not dispiriting the people on the other, demands talent and skill,” he told the conferees.
According to Hashemi, expanding the healthcare network is another key area to be addressed. There is now one health officer (who observes the ongoing health trends to understand the experiences, needs and concerns of people who use healthcare and social services) for every 3,000 individuals in the country.
“Given that the larger share of suicidal tendencies is due to psychological disorders, in that case extending monitoring teams under the 2014 Health Reform Plan can help detect, track, and report existing disorders to the comprehensive health centers for the next plan of action.”
Hashemi further called on all individuals in every rank and class to restrain from spreading pessimism and negativity. “I am asking every single person to give people neither false hope nor fabricated facts.”
Research suggests that depression is a common but serious mood disorder and is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood. But it is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents itself with more prominent irritability rather than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.

  Insurance for Psychological Health
Last week, a senior official at the SWO said that the organization is in talks with the Ministry of Labor, Cooperatives and Social Welfare as well as the Social Security Organization and the Psychology and Counseling Organization of Iran to establish a psychological health insurance scheme, the need for which has been corroborated by the state authorities.
“Launching such an insurance plan requires 1,500 billion rials ($43 million) but could benefit almost 24% of the population in the 14-65 age groups who suffer from at least one psychological condition,” said Mahdi Mirmohammd Sadeqi, head of the Counseling and Psychology Office at the SWO, IRNA reported.
According to the latest national survey on the issue, stress, anxiety disorders, and depression make up the largest part of mental disorders in Iran.
“Some 20% of such patients do not receive the required medical services, and a large number do not even seek help.”
At present, 30% of all suicide attempts occur in villages and 70% in urban areas, with 2.9% resulting in death, according to Ahmad Hajebi, chairman of Mental Health Office at ministry.
Till the year 2012, the suicide rate was 20% in villages and 80% in cities, which means there are more suicides now in rural areas.
The Iranian Social Workers Association says in the last 15 years the suicide rate has been 5-7 per 100,000 people in the country, a figure much lower than the global average of 16 per 100,000.
Some of the symptoms and signs of depression include persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism; irritability; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities; decreased energy or fatigue; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; thoughts of suicide; and aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

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