World Health Day is celebrated every April 7 to mark the anniversary of WHO’s founding. This year, the organization’s theme was depression — which affects people of all ages, from all races, conditions and walks of life. It causes mental anguish and prevents people from enjoying even the simplest things in life. It also hurts relationships, leading to isolation and suicide; in fact, depression is now the second-leading cause of death among people 15 to 29 years old.
But depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of the disease can help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and that’s the goal of this year’s campaign.
Depression is linked to difficulty making decisions, irritability, constantly feeling tired, feeling sad or having irregular appetite and sleep patterns. It’s also the most common psychological disorder in patients with end-stage renal disease, research has shown.
If not treated, depression can worsen overall health conditions, reduce quality of life and increase mortality risk. This is why instead of isolating themselves, patients should look for someone to talk to — a family member, friend, social worker or doctor — about their concerns.
“Patients face challenging emotional obstacles when diagnosed with any chronic disease. However, they are not alone on this journey,” Duane Dunn, director of DaVita’s social work services, said in a press release. “Dialysis patients can overcome difficult circumstances with the help of their healthcare team and loved ones not only on World Health Day, but at any time.”
Among people recently diagnosed with CKD, strong emotions may come to the surface as one processes this new reality. Doctors recommend that patients engage in meaningful activities and socialization to ease the adjustment to dialysis.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides annual screenings for depression for Medicare beneficiaries, and DaVita social workers screen patients twice yearly. DaVita also offers a short risk quiz that may help determine one’s risk for kidney disease. There’s also an online social community where people share tips, recipes and mutual support. Furthermore, DaVita provides free education classes to CKD patients and their loved ones wanting to learn more about the disease. These classes can be taken online or in-person.