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Depression Top Cause of Disability, WHO Says

Youth, pregnant or post-partum women, and the elderly are three groups particularly vulnerable

More than 4 per cent of the world’s population lives with depression, and women, youth and the elderly are the most prone to its disabling effects, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

An estimated 322 million people suffered depressive disorders in 2015, a rise of 18.4 per cent in a decade, as people live longer, the United Nations agency said in a report.

Global economic losses exceed $1 trillion US a year, it said, referring to lost productivity due to apathy or lack of energy that lead to an inability to function at work or cope with daily life.

“Depression is the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. So it’s the top cause of disability in the world today,” Dr. Dan Chisholm of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told a news briefing.

Depression is 1.5 times more common among women than men, he said. A further 250 million people suffer anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive behaviour and post-traumatic stress disorder, the report said. Some 80 per cent of those stricken with mental illness live in low- and middle-income countries.

“That puts paid to the notion of these disorders being diseases of the rich or the affluent, that is not the case. In fact in many countries people who are affected by poverty, unemployment, civil strife and conflict are actually at higher risk of certainly anxiety disorders and also depression,” Chisholm said.

Depression is 1.5 times more common among women than men,
according to the World Health Organization.

Three age groups are particularly vulnerable to depression — youth, pregnant or post-partum women, and the elderly.

“The pressures on today’s youth are like no other generation perhaps,” Chisholm said. “Another target group is women who are pregnant or have just given birth. Depression around that period is actually extremely common, around 15 per cent of women will suffer not just ‘the blues’, but a diagnosable case of depression.”

Retirees are also susceptible. “When we stop working or we lose our partner we become more frail, more subject to physical diseases and disorders like depression do become more common.”

An estimated 800,000 people die by suicide each year, a “pretty horrifying figure”, Chisholm said.

“It is more common in males in higher income countries but more common in females in lower- and middle-income countries.”

The WHO is running a campaign to tackle stigma and misconceptions called “Depression: Let’s Talk.”

“We feel that is a key first step, that if we want to bring mental health, depression and other mental disorders out of the shadows, we need to be able to talk about it,” Chisholm said.

Where to get help

Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat (online chat counselling) – visit http://www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:

  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Purposelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Anger.
  • Recklessness.
  • Mood changes.


Feb 23, 2017    source:  Thompson Reuters   www.cbc.ca


How to Be More Optimistic

Perspective is everything, and you can learn to change a negative outlook.

By Colleen Oakley      WebMD Magazine – Feature Reviewed by Patricia A. Farrell, PhD

Think happy thoughts. Find the silver lining. Look on the bright side.

Rolling your eyes yet? Alexandra Hruz is. She’s a 27-year-old self-proclaimed pessimist who lives in Chattanooga, TN. “When people are overly optimistic, it’s much easier to be let down by circumstances,” she says. “I don’t think the world is going to end tomorrow, but I also don’t like to hang my hopes on things working out on their own, simply by the power of positive thinking.”

But experts say positive thinking has serious benefits that go beyond a perky attitude. According to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh, women who expect good things to happen have a 30% lower risk for heart disease.

Optimism was also linked to a lower risk of stroke in a University of Michigan study. And a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that as they age, optimists tend to get fewer disabilities and live longer than pessimists.


If you’re a pessimist, you can still change your view. “Pessimism is a learned behavior, which means anyone can also learn to be optimistic,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. “It’s a skill you can teach yourself.” Here’s how:

Reframe your frustrations. Researchers at the University of Kent in England found that people who strived to see the positive side of things that went wrong – rather than venting to friends about what went wrong, or blaming themselves for small failures – were happier and more satisfied at the end of the day.

“If you didn’t get that promotion or you failed an exam or a relationship disintegrated, what can you learn from it? Failure can be a huge gift,” Lombardo says.

Just say “om.” Recent research suggests that people who meditate daily have more positive emotions than those who don’t. Mindful meditation works just as well, says Richard O’Connor, PhD, author of Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior. Savor positive moments – notice a pretty flower or get an ice cream with your kids, for examples. That helps train your brain to observe more good things.

Make a happy list. Every evening, write down three or four great things that happened that day. A recent study in the Journal of Research in Personality found that writing about positive experiences for just 3 straight days has lasting effects on mood.

source:  WebMD

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Light exercise linked to less disability

By Ronnie Cohen     NEW YORK     Thu May 22, 2014

A woman jogs along the Charles River on an early spring evening in Boston, Massachusetts April 3, 2014.

(Reuters Health) – People who engage in plenty of light movement have a lower risk of developing a disability and losing their capacity to care for themselves, a new study suggests.

The study included middle-aged and older adults who had knee osteoarthritis or were at high risk of developing the condition. It focused specifically on low-intensity exercise, like strolling through a shopping mall or walking around the living room during television commercials.

“This study shows that even light movement is beneficial,” lead author Dorothy Dunlop told Reuters Health.

“We’re asking the couch potato to get off the couch for two hours a day,” said Dunlop, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “You can get up when the commercials come on. You can walk around your block.”

Although public health officials and doctors sing the praises of moderate-intensity and vigorous exercise, the benefits of low-intensity activity remain unclear, the authors write in the British medical journal BMJ.

The new study suggests that any movement has the potential to forestall illness and disability, they add. However, it does not prove that engaging in light activities was the reason certain people maintained their health.

Dunlop and her team studied 1,680 adults between 49 and 83 years old who were living independently in one of four U.S. cities and did not have a disability. All of them had knee osteoarthritis or risk factors for the condition, which occurs when the protective cartilage around the joint wears down over time.

At the beginning of the study, participants wore accelerometers on their hip to measure their physical activity levels during waking hours for seven consecutive days.

Two years later, 149 of those studied had become disabled and could no longer perform basic activities on their own.

The more time participants spent stationary, the more likely they were to develop problems getting around.

As expected, both moderate and vigorous exercise were linked to long-term benefits. But even after the researchers accounted for time spent on those higher-intensity activities, light movement was still associated with a lower risk of disability.

Four or more hours a day of light activity was tied to a 30 percent lower risk of disability, Dunlop said.

What’s more, when the researchers included people who already had disabilities at the start of the study, they found those who engaged in light activity were less likely to see their condition worsen.

“Even among people who cannot do very much moderate activity, there was a strong benefit to participating in light activity to reduce the risk of developing disability as well as disability progression,” Dunlop said.

“We hope this will provide an additional route to better health and will add to the advice physicians give their patients,” she said. “It may be a new route for interventions for people who have health limitations.”

U.S. federal guidelines issued in 2008 call for adults to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. They stress the health benefits of all physical activity but say nothing specifically about light-intensity exercise.

Exercise scientist Todd Manini told Reuters Health he has no doubt about the benefits of moderate exercise. But Manini, from the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, said he remains unconvinced about the benefits of low-intensity movement.

Manini studies the health advantages of exercise and sits on a committee scheduled to make recommendations for new federal exercise guidelines in 2018. He was not involved in the new research.

One limitation of the study is that it cannot determine cause and effect, Manini said. He wondered, for example, if the people who performed more low-intensity activities might have been in better shape to begin with.

He also questioned the range that researchers used to measure low-intensity exercise and whether it could have been so broad that it encompassed moderate exercise as well.

Nevertheless, he praised the study for contributing to a growing body of literature about light-intensity exercise.

“I would love to tell people if you do your light activity, you’re going to get all the benefit,” Manini said. “But it could be a dangerous place to go.”

He fears that expanding federal exercise guidelines to recommend low-intensity activities might provide excuses for people who could exercise more vigorously but would instead move just a little and mostly remain chained to their couches.

But, he said, “You just can’t go wrong with the recommendation of, ‘Just keep moving.’”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1iz7IqG BMJ, online April 29, 2014                  www.reuters.com


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Routine Housework May Help Stave Off Disability

Study finds benefit in light activity such as housecleaning or a slow stroll

By Dennis Thompson      HealthDay Reporter       WebMD News from HealthDay

WEDNESDAY, April 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) – Daily physical activity as light as pushing a shopping cart, vacuuming the house or strolling through a museum can dramatically reduce a person’s risk of disability, a new study reports.

People who spent more than four hours a day doing light physical activity had more than a 30 percent reduction in their risk for developing a disability, compared to those spending only three hours a day in light activity, researchers found.

“The bottom line is to stay as active as possible. Even spending time in light activity will be beneficial,” said lead author Dorothy Dunlop, a professor with the Center for Healthcare Studies at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

The federal government recommends that adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Such exercise is known to reduce a person’s risk of disability, Dunlop said.

But some people have health issues that prevent them from pursuing that level of exercise, which includes activities like walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour, she said.

So researchers decided to see whether even lighter exercise could reduce a person’s risk of becoming disabled due to a condition like knee osteoarthritis.

The study involved a group of almost 1,700 adults, aged 45 to 79, who were participating in a long-term study of osteoarthritis. The participants were all free of disability, but they were at elevated risk for becoming disabled due to knee arthritis.

Disability currently accounts for more than one of every four dollars spent on health care, the researchers said in background material. Nearly one in five people in the United States was classified as disabled in 2010, at an estimated annual cost of $357 billion.

These disabilities can severely affect a person’s daily life, making it tough for them to perform basic tasks such as dressing themselves, taking a shower or even moving around their own home.

For the new study, researchers had the participants wear an accelerometer around one hip during their waking hours for about a week. The device measured the intensity of their daily movements, giving the study team an idea how much time they spent in vigorous, moderate or light physical activities.

Two years later, the researchers checked back in with the participants to see whether they had developed any disabilities.

The investigators found that people who frequently engaged in light physical activity were much less likely to become disabled, even after accounting for time spent in moderately intense exercise.

People who took part in more light activity were one-third to one-half less likely to suffer a disability, compared to people who had the least amount of daily light activity, the researchers noted.

Light physical activity also slowed the progression of people already suffering from a disability, the findings showed.

And while people who took part in some moderate-intensity exercise did even better, the researchers found, their results show that some movement is better than none.

“Our findings provide encouragement for adults who may not be candidates to increase physical activity intensity due to health limitations,” Dunlop said. “Even among those who did almost no moderate activity, the more light activity they did, the less likely they were to develop disability.”

The study appeared in the April 29 issue of the BMJ.

The findings correlate with what doctors often recommend to patients with osteoarthritis, said Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, an orthopedic surgeon and surgical director of women’s musculoskeletal health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. She was not involved with the new research.

“We have always tried to recommend to our patients that physical activity is extremely important, and especially in our patients with early osteoarthritis,” she said. “The most important thing they can do is self-management – basically stay active through some sort of exercise, and keep their weight down.”

Armed with this study, doctors can argue that even moving around your house to make a bed or wash some dishes will help stave off disability, Matzkin said.

“I tell my patients that you’re going to be bad off if you do nothing, but there is a threshold for exercise and if you overdo it, you can hurt yourself and be worse off,” she said. “This study definitely shows that if you get off the couch and do something, no matter how light, you’re still going to reap some benefits.”