Depression: A Silent Disease that Affects Thousands of Costa Ricans

Helping overcome this situation is a complex task requiring a wide social approach

Depression is a concept of mental health, which is characterized by the presence of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or lack of self-esteem, sleep or appetite disorders, feelings of tiredness and lack of concentration.

Depression is a silent disease that traps every year more than 20,000 Costa Ricans, mostly teenagers, and youth, as indicated by the Directorate of Health Surveillance of the Ministry of Health. Its causes are multiple: economic problems, unemployment and family losses. In Costa Rica, depression and anxiety are the most common diseases related to the lack of mental health and the most reason for consultation by patients in the first level of health care.

For this reason, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) launched in October the “No health without Mental Health” campaign, which seeks to provide the benefits of maintaining good mental health through the implementation of a comprehensive communication strategy, education and information that produces changes in the knowledges, attitudes and practices of families with regard to this problem.

In our country, “World Mental Day” is celebrated every October 10, and from there a special call is made on the respect for the dignity of those with mental disorders. Thousands of people with mental health problems are deprived of their human rights. They are discriminated against, stigmatized and marginalized and suffer physical and emotional abuse, both in psychiatric centers and in their social environment. Also, in some cases, the poor state of health facilities and the lack of qualified health professionals affect the care that these patients receive.

In Costa Rica, the provinces of San Jose and Alajuela present the highest number of cases due to depression, while the provinces of Limón and Puntarenas respectively have the lowest number of cases according to the Health Surveillance Department of the Ministry of Health.

The symptoms that indicate that a person is in a depressive state are:

  • They are constantly angry
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sadness
  • Sleep disorders
  • Isolation
  • Wishes to lie

Depression is a disease that is right there, next to us, it is in our homes and our friends and that most people do not recognize it. Women are four times more likely to suffer from the disorder, as well; people who suffer from two or more chronic diseases are eight times more likely to suffer from it.

On the other hand, the director of the National Psychiatric Hospital commented that childhood learning has a leading role in the development of depression. Children are growing with difficulties to face problems, the demand and the pressures of new technologies, the pressures of transculturization, the pressures of bullying and interferences in their education.

This disease can become chronic and recurrent, hindering people’s performance, their ability to respond to the demands of life in the workplace, academy, family, and community and even, in the worst-case end in suicide. In this regard, recent studies indicate that suicide attempts are a daily sad reality in Costa Rica. During 2018, the emergency response services attend and manage a monthly average of 570 Suicide Attempts incidents. During that year it answered a total of 6870 calls about situations of suicide attempts, a figure that could ignite an important negative record.

For this reason, and with the purpose of continuing to promote actions to reduce these unfortunate events, the College of Professionals in Psychology of Costa Rica (Colypro) has led a communication campaign together with the Ministry of Public Education, the Vice Ministry of Public Education and Colypro, called “Here I am”, which aims to sensitize and educate the population about the importance of identifying and knowing how to listen to people with suicidal risk, as well as showing that there are spaces and support professionals available to correctly help these people overcome their situation.

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SOURCEEdixon Colmenares
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