“Depression: Let’s Talk” is the theme of the 2017 World Health Day, which is today, April 7.
It aims to shine a light upon a problem that can remain hidden in a dark corner of the mind, causing sadness, loss of interest, and fear. An even more important goal is to convince people with depression to get help.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which sponsors World Health Day, has been leading a one-year global campaign against depression.
More than 300 million people live with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015, the WHO estimates. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.
Depression is common among the 24 million Americans living with COPD, and it can significantly worsen the physical burden of the disease. It has been estimated that 40 percent of COPD patients have been diagnosed with clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms.
The Lung Institute hopes to decrease this statistic by increasing the quality of life of COPD patients.
“Many of our COPD patients suffer from depression. It is what is known in medicine as a co-morbidity,” Jack Coleman, Jr., MD, senior medical director of the institute. said in a news release. “When you suffer with COPD, life’s smallest activities like bathing and walking can be a daily struggle; leaving the house can be overwhelming, which may lead to isolated living conditions. You can become cut off from the things you enjoy and, too often, the ones you love.”
The Lung Institute offers regenerative stem cell therapy to those with lung conditions. Stem cells, which have the potential to generate several other types of cells, can be used to regenerate lung tissue.
According to a previous report of the Lung Institute, 82 percent of patients with COPD said their quality of life improved after stem cell therapy. Researchers believe that such improvement can help decrease the patients’ risk of depression.
“I could barely leave the house and I couldn’t move. It was hard to get [up] out of a chair. I went into a depression of losing my life, the life I had and the life I loved,” said David V., a patient at the Lung Institute. “But [having] the stem cell [treatment] freed me up to be able to move again. That was the move that saved my life.”
The Lung Institute said it believes COPD and depression do not have to co-exist. Appropriate management of COPD-related depression can improve patients’ outlook on life, the institute said.