April 7th is World Health Day, and this year the World Health Organization is highlighting issues surrounding depression.

World Health Day

Why depression? Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, currently effecting more than 300 million people. With so many people suffering from this often-debilitating disorder, it’s important to stress that depression is a treatable illness and to encourage people suffering the effects of this illness to seek help.
According to the World Health Organization, if you believe that you (or someone you love) may be depressed, these are some of the actions you can take:

  • Talk to someone. This is important. Find someone you trust and tell them how you’re feeling, this may help to relieve the sense of isolation that can come with depression.
  • Make an appointment with your family doctor or visit a medical clinic to discuss your symptoms. Depression is not a weakness; it is an illness. You wouldn’t treat your own broken ankle, so you shouldn’t be expected to treat your own depression.
  • Maintain connections with family and friends. You may be tempted to isolate yourself, but the bonds with loved ones in your life can be a valuable support system, even when you least realize it.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption, as it is a depressant and can worsen your symptoms. Instead, try to fill your body with healthy foods and regular meals and try to maintain healthy sleeping habits.
  • Move your body. Aim for regular exercise if you can, but if not, even just a short walk can make a difference. Outdoor exercise in particular has been shown to be especially beneficial.
  • If you have suicidal thoughts, get help right away. Depression is a medical condition, and you can and will get better with the right help.

For more information about World Health Day or for resources on depression, visit the World Health Organization and Canadian Mental Health Association websites.