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15% of South Koreans with depression seek professional help: survey

Over 600,000 South Koreans suffer from depression, but 85 percent of them are not receiving medical treatment, government data showed Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, there were about 613,000 people living with depression in 2016, accounting for 1.5 percent of the national population. Among them, approximately 470,000 were women, more than twice the number of men.


However, only 15 percent of patients received medical treatment for depression, which is not even half of the corresponding figure in the US, at 39.2 percent.

Moreover, South Koreans tend to hesitate and delay seeking professional help, which causes the condition to worse and makes treatment more difficult. It took 84 weeks on average for patients to visit a doctor for the first time.

“It is important to communicate with your family or friends, or consult a specialist. Above all, have a lot of conversations with close acquaintances in daily life,” said professor Ha Kyoo-seob of Seoul National University Hospital.

Depression can be cured if it is discovered and treated quickly, as there are many effective treatments, the expert added.

The global population suffering from depression was roughly 300 million people as of 2015, up 18 percent from 2005.

The World Health Organization has set the theme “Depression: Let’s Talk” for this year’s World Health Day.

South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare also announced that its 45th Health Day’s slogan is “Are you depressed? Talk to us,” also commencing a campaign to prevent and eliminate depression.

By Byun Hee-jin (