The mental health effects that the covid-19 pandemic will leave will continue to be seen for at least a decade and the stigma that exists around these diseases will continue to complicate diagnosis and treatment, experts from Mexico said Thursday.

"In the next decade, the consequences of mental health in the population living in the context of the current pandemic will continue to be addressed"Neuropsychiatrist Edilberto Peña told Efe.

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On the World Day to Combat Depression, which is commemorated every January 13, the director of the Nervous System Research Center (Cisne) Mexico, said that depression is a complex, chronic and recurrent disease that affects more 280 million people worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that in Latin America 5% of the adult population of productive age suffers from some type of depression.

Peña indicated that this condition has been made visible as never before by the covid-19 pandemic, because its incidence has increased by up to 20% in some countries such as Mexico.

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"Anxiety has also increased by 50%; while attempted suicide up to 40%", lament.

According to the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association, since 2020 depression is the main mental illness in the country and the covid-19 pandemic increased this problem.

"This is due not only to the confinement, but also to the loss of jobs, of loved ones"explained the expert.

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GENETIC ISSUE

Jacqueline Cortés, psychiatrist and president of the Mexican Psychiatric Association, explained that depression is a hereditary disease, although this does not necessarily mean that someone with depressed parents has to develop the condition.

"Children of depressed parents are two to three times more likely to develop depression than children of non-depressed parents", he pointed out.

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However, he acknowledged that the pandemic has caused those who had that risk, debuted with depression in the last two years, derived from the restrictions due to the health emergency.

He noted that it is critical to identify the symptoms of depression.

These are detected when people experience sadness, irritability, a feeling of emptiness, or a loss of enjoyment or interest in activities, most of the day, almost every day.

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In addition, there are other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, low self-esteem, sleep disturbances and fluctuations in weight.

BARRIERS TO COMBAT IT

The experts pointed out that although it is a more recognized disease, there are still some barriers to its treatment.

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"Self-stigma and under-diagnosis are the main barriers we face"Pena noted.

And he pointed out that myths and the social context of people often complicate the diagnosis and that the appropriate treatment is reached.

He highlighted that another problem is that the number of specialists does not cover the demand for care; in Mexico, for example, there are only 5,000 psychiatrists to serve more than 126 million people.

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For this reason, he said, the number of patients treated in Latin America is only one third of those living with the disease.

"Unfortunately, mental illnesses remain untreated", he insisted.

That is why the experts made a call to raise awareness about this disease and eliminate stigmata.

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"A person with depression is not weak or lazy; he is a sick person. Specialized medical care is required for timely diagnosis and treatment"Cortes said.

"No person deserves to live depressed", he concluded.

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