People with disabilities ‘three times more likely’ to suffer depression

More than 40% of disabled aged over 15 years report depression, CSO survey finds

People aged 15 years and over with disabilities are three times more likely to report some form of depression compared with the State average, new figures show.

The latest bulletin from the Central Statistics Office reveals 43 per cent of people with disabilities reported experiencing depression, compared with the State average of 14 per cent.

One-quarter of those aged 15 or more with a disability also reported that their health status was bad or very bad, compared with the State average of just 4 per cent.

The statistics suggest a link between the severity of a person’s disability and depression. Almost one-third of those experiencing “a lot of difficulty remembering or concentrating”, or who cannot remember or concentrate at all, said they had “moderately severe” or “severe” depression.


People with walking difficulties reported the poorest general health status of persons with disabilities. Apart from mental health, persons who selected “a lot of difficulty/cannot do it at all” for walking, reported the poorest health status of those with disabilities.

The survey also found almost 80 per cent of people with disabilities who are aged 55 years or more, reported difficulties with household activities such as housework. More than one-third of respondents reported difficulties with personal care activities such as bathing or showering or getting in or out of a bed or chair.

Some 26 per cent of people with disabilities reported their healthcare needs were not met due to waiting lists, compared with a State average of 14 per cent.

More than one-third of persons aged 55 years and over with a disability have a difficulty with at least one personal care activity. Almost eight in 10 people aged 55 years and over with disabilities report some difficulties with household activities.

The report published on Monday by the CSO is the third in a series of health publications based on the Irish Health Survey, which began in 2015.

Keith McSweeney, senior statistician with the CSO, said the measure of disability in the publication derived from the degree of difficulty a person has with a range of physical and sensory activities. The survey which asked people to self report their experiences, focused on those who have “a lot of difficulty” with the activity or who “cannot do it at all” – for example, sight, hearing, walking.

The survey had a sample size of about 7,600 individuals. The series of reports is available at

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist