KARACHI - Globally depression affects 20 percent of people while in Pakistan it’s more serious with an estimate of 34 percent. Both genetic and environmental factors play an important role in its pathogenesis. Around 35.7 percent citizens of Karachi are affected with this mental illness, while 43 percent from Quetta and 53.4 percent from Lahore are also affected.

These views were stated by Prof. Dr Ahsana Dar of Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) Karachi University (KU), while delivering a lecture on “Depression and its Control” at the Prof. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, KU, on Saturday. The lecture was jointly organised by PCMD and Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP) as a part of series of popular lectures for public awareness on common diseases of Pakistan. Health professionals, students, research scholars, NGO representatives and general public attended the lecture.

Prof Dar said that historically depression was described by Greeks and Romans as melancholia that was later related to symptoms such as sleeplessness, irritability and restlessness by Hippocrates in the 4th Century. It was not until 19th Century that melancholia was accepted as an independent disease and its association with sadness, suicide was accepted, adding that after 2nd World War the International Classification of Diseases and Diagnostic Statistical Manual clearly characterized this as an illness.

She said, “There are a number of factors that may increase the chance of depression. Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can cause depression later in life; certain medications can increase risk of depression. Depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends. A family history of depression may increase the risk. Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring.

 Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can lead to depression.

There are many options for treating depression including antidepressants, herbals, medication free therapy, and dietary supplements.