Dr. Julian Walters is originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA. Her medical degree is from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, PA. She completed her three-year adult training in Psychiatry at the University of Arizona. She then transferred to University of Florida in Gainesville, FL for a two-year fellowship training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Dr. Walters has worked both in public and private sector in the USA and in Jamaica and is currently in private practice full-time in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her passion is for the Jamaican people particularly children and families, and how these intersect the wider community and the country at large. She has done educational presentations for schools, businesses, hotels, call centers, churches, etc. regarding a wide variety of topics including; parent training, boundaries, stress and anxiety. She may be contacted at her office for private consultations or to schedule speaking engagements.
On July 20, 2017, there was another breaking news of another celebrity suicide. Chester Bennington had suffered physical and sexual abuse as a child, and started self-medicating with drugs early on. The success of his music, that led to fame and fortune did not roll back the tide of depression and mental illness. The loss of a friend to suicide a few months earlier also did nothing to help his situation. He killed himself in the same manner his friend did on what would have been his friend’s birthday. This friend, Chris Connell, was also a world-famous musician. We do not want to glorify suicide, and particularly celebrity suicides, but we need to start the conversation because children are watching and suicide is already an epidemic worldwide.
Many celebrities have committed suicide since the start of the year. This is concerning, because it is becoming a regular fixture in our society and a seemingly simple escape from the problems of life. For each celebrity suicide that captures international attention there are many more suicides in various countries throughout our world that do not make the local news. The fact that these suicides do not make headlines does not make them less meaningful than the ones that do.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) suicide is the second leading cause of death among the 15-year-old to 29-year-old age group. Close to 800,000 persons kill themselves each year (approximately 2000 suicides daily), and that figure does not include persons who attempt suicide but are unsuccessful.
The suicide epidemic that has gripped certain parts of the world has not yet reached our shores.
But even one suicide is one too many and we as a society need to work on preventing these losses of lives. Because we live in a global society taking a meaningful look at what happens in other countries can help us implement strategies to prevent us following along a path that leads to needless deaths.
The risk factors for suicide are varied; mental illnesses including unipolar or bipolar depression, substance abuse, isolation or victim of bullying, family history, a serious medical illness, financial problems, relationship difficulties, personality disorders. One way to prevent suicide is to look at the risk factors and put strategies in place to prevent loss of lives.
In today’s article, we will look at depression
What is depression?
The term depression can be hard to define since everyday emotions such as sadness is also called depression. Feeling sadness due to death or illness or stress is entirely normal. Calling it depression is also entirely normal. The America Psychiatric Association (APA) defines depression as: Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act (www.psychiatry.org).
It is important to recognize that major depressive disorder is a medical illness, that affects all areas of a person’s life.
The WHO latest (February 2017) statistics on depression states that more than 300 million of the world’s 7 billion people suffer from depression.
300 MILLION = 100 times the population of Jamaica.
Depression is the leading cause of disability and disease burden worldwide. We generally think of disability in physical terms and may often forget that mental disability is also a problem. This means that depression is the leading cause of loss productivity in terms of manufacturing and decreased quality of life for individuals and families.
Are you clinically depressed or just feeling down?
- Things and people are no longer interesting or enjoyable as they once were
- Weight loss or gain because of appetite changes (eating too much or too little)
- Difficulty with sleep, whether that is sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of energy and problems with memory and concentration
- Feeling sad or down for most days
- The thought that you might be better off dead or you contemplate killing yourself
- There are aches and pains with no physical cause
- Most days you feel helpless, hopeless or worthless
If you are having most of these symptoms on most days of the week for more than two weeks then more than likely you are suffering from depression.
What are the causes of major depressive disorder?
There is no exact cause for major depressive disorder. However, there are a multiply risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
Genetics: family history of mental illness is not an exact science
Grief: is a normal emotion that may increase the risk of depression
Illnesses: chronic illnesses can lead to depression, as well as the medications used to treat illnesses.
Major life events: we tend to think of negative life events (death, illnesses, job loss) as being a risk factor for depression and they are, however, but even positive changes (wedding, relocation, promotion) can cause the condition.
Abuse/bullying: any form of abuse increases the risk of developing major depressive disorder.
What to do?
As mentioned before, the second leading cause of death in teenagers and young adults is suicide. One of the biggest risk factor for suicide is depression with its feelings of hopeless, helplessness and worthlessness. Treating depression minimizes the risk of suicide and can help alleviate the disease burden to our society. Treating depression is also important for the individual to experience joy in their lives and for the individual to contribute meaningfully to family and society.
If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, please seek medical attention. There is help and hope available.
Julian Walters, MD
Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist