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The Problem with Brain Illness

The BBC News had a story recently on the fact that depression is the second biggest cause of disability in the world.  Imagine!  Add to that the fact that only a small proportion of patients have access to treatment according to the World Health Organization.  In the article several doctors and organizations urged that depression must be treated as a global public health priority.

And that brings us to the crux of the problem.  People don’t look at brain illness as a legitimate public health issue to be dealt with.  In some people’s minds, the brain isn’t subject to disease unless it is able to be shown that there is a tumor or lesion that points to a physical disease.

When will we realize that depression is common across the world?  And when will we realize that it affects productivity, family life, and genuine happiness?  And when will we see that it is as legitimate a body disease as cancer or heart trouble or any other physical illness?

Dr. Alize Ferrari from the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health and leader of the most recent study on diseases of disability said, “What one person recognizes as disabling might be different to another person and might be different across countries as well where there are lots of cultural implications and interpretations that come in place, which makes it all the more important to raise awareness of the size of the problem and also signs and how to detect it.”

And the first biggest cause of disability?  Back pain.  Maybe that’s really depression too from carrying the burden of brain illness all by yourself for a long period of time.  Not really, but it’s interesting to consider.  Thanks for listening to my rant.

– Bernadette


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