Concern over depression figures


Two out of five of people would not want to know if a loved one was experiencing depression even though almost everyone acknowledges talking about the problem is an important part of recovery, a survey has found.

The 2011 Mental Health Barometer commissioned by the pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck also found that almost a quarter of people still think depression is a "state of mind" rather than an illness.

Some 49 per cent of people said they would want to know if someone close to them was suffering from depression while 42 per cent said they wouldn't want to know. Just 37 per cent of young people under 25 said they would want to know, said the survey, which has been conducted every year for the past six years.

"There is clearly a sense of embarrassment or concern that discussing it would be too personal or backward... it appears that depression is somewhat objectified and feared," said the survey.

Three out of five people said they considered stigma to be an issue for people suffering depression. And even though the perceived stigma of suffering from depression has reduced over recent years, it is still significantly higher than the stigma associated with a range of other conditions including: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, cancer and heart disease.

Dr Harry Barry, a Louth based GP and author of several books on depression, said at the launch of the report today that it was "very worrying" that 42 per cent of people wouldn't want their friend or family member to discuss their depression with them.

"Sometimes people just need to talk. It can be the first step towards recovery. By providing a sympathetic ear and encouraging them to get professional help they could make a real difference in their friends life," he said.

The survey also found groups perceived as being the most at risk of depression- typically young, unemployed- men were not the biggest sufferers of the illness. In fact, 69 per cent of those suffering from depression in the survey were women while just 31 per cent were men.

The occurrence of depression is perceived as being less common in the elderly, despite the reality that depression is common in old age, said the survey.

Overall the survey found depression remains a widespread condition in Ireland, experienced by 4 per cent of the population directly at some stage, with almost one in eight knowing someone close to them who has experienced it.

Lundbeck, a specialist psychiatry research and marketing body, says a nationally representative quota sample of 998 adults aged 16 and over was interviewed for the study.

Fieldwork was undertaken between April 22nd and May 3rd and the results of the survey carry a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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