Stresses of modern life and the development of chronic diseases and contributed to increased cases of depression in the United Arab Emirates. These conditions are common among children and youth because of the changing living conditions (Zaman, 2018). In this era of technology, social media is playing a critical role in eroding confidence among the youth and adolescents leading to depression. Many schools in the United Arab Emirates have hired school counsellors meaning that depression is real. Women are more likely to develop depression than men, but it is a positive sign that men have started seeking counseling about the condition. The report discusses depression in the UAE.
Depression Prevalence in UAE
One of the primary causes of depression in the UAE among the youth is an overreliance on social media. Most young people access and exchange information online fueling the rates of people addicted to their social sites. They cannot take long without logging in through their mobile phones failure to which they develop anxiety about what is happening in the world (Webster, 2017). According to the World Health Organization, depression is highest in the United Arab Emirates, and currently, it stands at 5.1%. Also, the region ranks highly for anxiety levels, with 4.1% accepting that they have developed the problem.
The number of reported cases about depression in 2015 was 444,016 in the primary health centers. However, the number of people who sought counseling for anxiety was 354,199. One of the causes of disability internationally is depression since it affects about 300 million people. The problem is rare in children, but it is high in adolescents (Webster, 2017). Only about 4% of children are affected by the condition, while it is 20% among teenagers. Social media is to blame for high rates of depression among youths in the UAE. Moreover, the World Health Organization estimates that about 800,000 deaths occur annually as a result of committing suicide due to depression (Kuttab, 2018). It is the second common cause of death for people aged 15-29. Because of the rising deaths, doctors in the UAE have raised their concern that requires intervention from all stakeholders, including government and non-governmental organizations.
Many communities live in Dubai, creating a stressful environment because of the different cultures. People come from different backgrounds with different ways of doing things. Therefore, they find the situation stressful, especially when people visit the region for the first time. The result of stress is depression if people cannot manage such issues (Webster, 2017). For example, school going children find it difficult to adapt new learning environment affecting their concentration in their studies. Some of them would prefer returning to their home countries, and they develop depression if they do not adapt the new learning environment.
Causes of Depression
Expat society is facing many problems that lead to stress. One of the issues they face in the UAE is financial issues, and this is because they are worried about their jobs because of the economic downturn raising anxiety about their future and ability to be stable financially. A fall in oil prices in the region has also contributed to the loss of jobs and revenues (Mannan, 2017). The increasing rates of unemployment threaten the financial stability of people, and this has encouraged people to work for long hours so that they can earn sufficient income to meet their financial needs. Therefore, the economic downturn has contributed to stress among people causing depression if not managed at an early stage.
Moreover, stress from work is another factor contributing to high levels of depression in the UAE. Most of the patients reporting depression in the UAE argue that they are facing work-related problems leading to stress. For example, they work long hours so that they can meet their financial needs (Mannan, 2017). They have limited time to rest because they are not sure about job security due to changes in economic condition.
On the other hand, social media is the primary cause of anxiety among youths, and they are likely to develop depression if they cannot manage it. For example, they must access their smartphones and social media to connect with others. They will be stressed if they do not log in to their accounts, which in extreme cases, lead to depression (Mannan, 2017). They develop a habit of not doing without their mobile phones, and they cannot concentrate on core activities since they always think of viewing current posts from their friends. Moreover, people who post things on social media expect likes and replies and they will keep checking to see people who have posted. However, they develop stress if they do not get likes and posts they expected. Therefore, social media has a significant impact on depression.
Treating Depression in the UAE
The first way to manage social media in the UAE is funding schools and colleges with professional counselors to help the youth overcome issues they face in real life like internet addiction. The introduction of counseling lessons helps learners to open up about the problems they face so that they get relevant help so that they do not develop depression (Schiess et al., 2019). The second professional treatment of depression is cognitive behavioral therapy. In this method, therapists work with depressed individuals to identify a link between how they feel, think, and behave, and then develop intervention programs that would change their thinking and perceptions for the better so that they overcome challenges that would lead to their depression.
Depression is a condition affecting many people, including young and elderly. It affects the mental status of the victims. The United Arab Emirates has the highest number of depressed individuals because of various factors and challenges affecting their living standards. Social media addiction and work-life difficulties are the primary causes of depression in the region. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the largest cause of suicide among people aged 15-29 years. Therefore, it is necessary for school administrators to introduce counseling programs in schools to guide youths overcome behaviors that would lead to stress and eventually, depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is another way to treat depression in the UAE.
Kuttab, J. (2018). Depression cases on the rise, warn UAE doctors. Khaleej Times. Retrieved from https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/uae-health/depression-cases-/on-the-rise-warn-uae-doctors
Mannan, M. (2017). Depression a big issue for isolated UAE expatriates. The National. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/uae/depression-a-big-issue-for-isolated-uae-expatriates-1.2140
Schiess, N. Huether, K. Holroyd, K. B. Aziz, F. Emam, E. Shahrour, T & Alsaadi, T. (2019). Multiple Sclerosis, Anxiety, and Depression in the United Arab Emirates: Does Social Stigma Prevent Treatment? International Journal of MS Care, 21(1), 29-34.
Webster, N. (2017). Depression a growing problem among youngsters, UAE doctors warn. The National. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/uae/health/depression-a-growing-problem-among-youngsters-uae-doctors-warn-1.2245
Zaman, S. (2018). 80% of people in UAE are stressed. Gulf News. Retrieved from https://gulfnews.com/going-out/society/80-of-people-in-uae-are-stressed-1.2247747
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