The importance of personal health conditions to prevent depression symptoms in adults

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Illustration of depression. (Source:

Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is a significant cause of disability worldwide and a substantial contributor to the overall global disease burden (WHO, 2020). Depression can lead to suicide. The depression is also thought to have caused enormous economic losses. This economic burden is caused by the loss of work productivity and medical costs (Greenberg, 2015).

Depression symptoms have become a public health concern, including in Indonesia. Due to the increasing trend of cases and the high burden of resulting disease. Based on 2013 Basic Health Research, the prevalence of mental disorders in the Indonesian population was 6% and increased to 9.8% in 2018 (Ministry of Health, 2013; Ministry of Health, 2018). Besides, the prevalence of depressive symptoms varies from province to province. The results of Basic Health Research in 2018 also reported that 6.1% of Indonesians over the age of 15 were diagnosed with depression, but only 9% of them accessed medical care (Ministry of Health, 2018).

One theory states that physical functioning reflects certain aspects of quality of life-related to health in which individuals can adapt to their environment (Whitelaw and Liang, 1991; Boehme, et al., 2014). Self-assessed health referring to individual perceptions of their current health is a strong predictor of morbidity and mortality. Several studies have found that disability, illness, and low health status and self-assessed health perceptions are risk factors for depression (Camargo, et al., 2018; Lorem, et al., 2020; Assari, et al., 2020. ).

Research assessing the relationship between personal health conditions and depressive symptoms among Indonesians is still limited. Studies using national data from longitudinal surveys can provide more information to decide which prevention strategies are needed according to the precise target audience, namely the general population, selected groups, or indicated groups (high-risk individuals). Research that has been conducted using data from IFLS 5, which is the 5th wave of the IFLS survey. IFLS is a survey of longitudinal and sustainable socioeconomic status and health. This survey collects data on individuals, families, households and communities, including health and education facilities.

IFLS 5 was held in late 2014 and early 2015 with 16,204 households and 50,148 individuals being interviewed directly. This research with IFLS 5 data used a cross-sectional study design with a total sample of 17,734 respondents. The variables included were depressive symptoms, personal health, physical function, chronic conditions, demographics and socioeconomic aspects. Depressive symptoms were measured using a 10-item statement, according to Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D). Multivariate logistic regression analysis analyzes the data and finds factors that were significantly associated with depressive symptoms.

The results showed that 23.47% of respondents experienced severe depression symptoms. A total of 20.04% had low health scores, 55.93% had a poor physical function, and 32.37% had at least one chronic disease. Respondents who are in poor health, have low physical functioning or have chronic conditions have a higher likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms after controlling for demographic variables (age, gender, marriage, and level of education), socioeconomic, and smoking status.

The main results of this study provide evidence that poor personal health, poor physical functioning, and chronic illness have an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms. These findings indicate the need for interventions and strategies to increase self-awareness and maintain subjective individual well-being. Educational programs to raise public awareness about depressive symptoms and depression prevention need to pay attention to these three components to support depression rate reduction programs. Besides, strategies that can improve personal health conditions need to be studied at the community level to improve mental health status.

Author: Astutik E, Hidajah AC, Tama TD, Efendi F, Li C


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