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By Moses Kaketo
Uganda has been ranked among top six countries in Africa with the highest cases of mental disorder- according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report.
Of the 50 African countries WHO ranked, Uganda was among the top six countries with the highest number of people suffering from depressive disorders.
The report says 1.7 million or (4.6%) Ugandans suffer from depressive disorders and 1.07 0r (2.8%) Ugandans suffer from anxiety disorders.
Media reports indicate over 700 patients are admitted at any one time at the National Butabika Mental Health and Training Hospital,-the national referral hospital for the mentally ill. There are 13 other Mental Health clinics at the regional hospitals
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Analysts say the number could even be higher because many victims live and stay in villages. Otherwise, the WHO based her conclusions on patients who thought medical assistance.
The report says, the risk of becoming depressed is increased by poverty, unemployment, life events such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use.
It is estimated that more than 400,000 young Ugandans graduate every year. However, fewer than 100,000 are absorbed into formal employment. On the other hand, some of the few rich Ugandans are living in constant fear of losing their sources of income and property over bank loans.
In Africa, Nigeria tops with 7m cases of depressive disorder and 4.8m anxiety disorders, followed by Ethiopia with 4.4m and 3.1m depressive disorders and anxiety disorders respectively. Others are: DRC 2.8M, South Africa, 2.4m Tanzania 2.1m and Kenya at 1.9 million.
At a global level, over 300 million people are estimated to suffer from depression, equivalent to 4.4% of the world’s population.
Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.
Depression can be long lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide.
Depressive disorders include two main sub-categories: Major depressive disorder/ depressive episode,which involves symptoms such as depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and decreased energy.
Released on February 2017 and titled “Depression and other common mental disorders: Global Health Estimates”, the report says depression is the largest single mental health problem and a major contributor to suicide deaths whose number is close to 800,000 per year.
Depression also contributes 7.5% to global disability. And the report says, there has been an increase in mental illness by 18% worldwide.
Related: Where are Uganda’s graduates?