June 29, 2010


Condition viewed as a state of mind rather than a medical condition, new research finds

TWO-THIRDS of men are embarrassed to talk about depression and a quarter view it as a state of mind rather than a medical condition, new research suggests.

The findings have been described as “worrying” by psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey, particularly since young men are at the highest risk of suicide.

“The attitude of depression being a state of mind or a weakness will not encourage young men to approach their healthcare professional for help,” she said.

“It may not be easy to take that first step, but there is help available for those who need it.”

The number of young people aged between 15 and 24 who are aware of someone who is depressed has doubled in just a year from 9 to 18 per cent due to a higher profile for the illness.

The Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer 2010, now in its sixth year, has tracked attitudes to mental health in Ireland since its beginning. The research involving 1,001 adults was carried out last month.

It found there was a significant reduction in the concealment of depression.

This has carried through to 2010, with 50 per cent of people who have had personal and familial expression of depression, saying that many or some people would have been aware of their depression.

The number of people who have personally experienced depression remains consistent across all six years of research, with a small increase from 5 per cent in 2009 to 6 per cent in 2010, the equivalent of 201,000 of the adult population.

The perception that unemployed people are the most likely to be depressed has increased from 22 per cent in 2008 to 37 per cent last year.

Of those who personally suffer from depression, 38 per cent believe that it is most common among the unemployed, a significant increase from 23 per cent in 2009, which may be due to the recession.

Of those with personal experience of depression, 39 per cent believe that young people/teenagers are the most likely group to experience the illness, an increase from 15 per cent in 2008.

There has also been an increase in those who view depression as being very disruptive, up from 59 per cent in 2009 to 70 per cent this year.

The research also found that 12 per cent of people know someone with anxiety, a figure that has grown consistently since the research was first carried out in 2005.

The number of women who have experienced anxiety has increased from 7 per cent in 2006 to 14 per cent in 2010.