December 14, 2019 08:29
Over 120,000 young people will have gone to see a doctor about their depression this year, according to an estimate.
Experts blame high youth unemployment compounded by growing difficulties meeting a partner and family problems.
According to data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of patients being treated for depression rose 28 percent from 588,155 in 2014 to 751,930 last year.
The increase was particularly marked among patients in their 20s, where it surged 97 percent from 49,975 to 98,434 over the same period. In the first nine months of this year, their number stood at 94,245 and is estimated to reach 125,000 by the year's end, up 30 percent from last year.
Jeon Hong-jin at Samsung Medical Center said, "More and more people in their early 20s seem to be getting depressed due to family or relationship problems, while those in their late 20s appear to be suffering lots of pressure and anxiety while trying to find a job."
But Jeon added the increase in the figure is also due to awareness-raising programs in schools and elsewhere, so more sufferers consult a doctor and are registered in the statistics.
Depression can be life-threatening, and the high-profile suicides of celebrities including Sulli and Gu Ha-ra have raised concerns over copy-cat suicides. "It's vital for people suffering from depression to seek professional help," Jeon said.
Last year, consumption of anti-depressants stood at only 22 defined daily doses (DID) for 1,000 people in Korea, compared to the OECD average of 63.
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