Massage therapy and other techniques used by massage therapists—reiki, aromatherapy and acupressure among them—have all been indicated by research to relieve depression in clients.

A new report shows depression is a global problem, affecting 121 million people worldwide. Depression can affect a person’s ability to work and form relationships, and can simply destroy one’s quality of life. Depression leads to 850,000 suicides each year.

Researchers from 20 health centers around the world compiled depression data based on detailed interviews with more than 89,000 people.

Among the results:

• Fifteen percent of the population from high-income countries were likely to get depression over their lifetime with 5.5 percent having had depression in the last year.

• Eleven percent of people in low- and middle-income countries were likely to get depression over their lifetime.

• Major depressive episodes were elevated in high-income countries (28 percent compared to 20 percent) and were especially high (over 30 percent) in the U.S., India, France and the Netherlands.

• The country with the lowest incidence of major depressive episodes was China, at 12 percent.

This is the first study that used a standardized method to compare depression and major depressive episodes across countries and cultures.

“We have shown that depression is a significant public-health concern across all regions of the world and is strongly linked to social conditions,” said researcher Evelyn Bromet from State University of New York at Stony Brook. “Understanding the patterns and causes of depression can help global initiatives in reducing the impact of depression on individual lives and in reducing the burden to society.”

The research is published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine.

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