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Depression is widespread, largely undiagnosed and rarely treated in Japan. Until the late 1990s, depression was largely ignored outside the psychiatric profession. Depression has been described as “kokoro no kaze” (“a cold of the soul”) and only recently it is being accepted in Japan as a medical condition that shouldn’t provoke shame in those suffering from it. In Japan, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people will experience some form of depression during their lifetime.

Depression is a state of low mood that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. Its symptoms include sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and altered appetite and sleep. Many depressed people have feelings of dejection and hopelessness that may drive them to suicide.

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