May 21, 2008

New research reveals 32% of those with depression experience frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Launched last week, Mind Yourself – The Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer report has revealed the most common symptoms amongst those with personal experience of depression are frequent thoughts of death or suicide (32%), low self esteem (29%) and sleep disturbance (28%).

Professor Patricia Casey, Professor of Psychiatry, University College Dublin and Consultant Psychiatrist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital said 'Research has shown that there is a link between depression and suicide. As the pain of depression deepens, it can become overwhelming and lead to thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness. Without treatment depression will progress and possibly worsen, which can have an extremely negative effect on a person's quality of life. However, with medication and/or specific types of psychotherapy, depression can be effectively treated, just like any other illness. If you think you are suffering from depression or know somebody that is, seeking advice from a healthcare professional will help on the path to recovery.'

38% of people surveyed believe that youths or teens are the most likely group in Irish society to be depressed, followed by the unemployed at 22% and the aging population at 11%. Conversely, of those who have personally experienced depression, 24% think the aging population are the most likely group to be depressed, followed by the unemployed at 20% and youths or teens at 15%.

Despite the fact that 88% of people think it is important that depression is openly discussed, 72% do not think that it is easy to discuss and 60% think it would be a difficult condition to talk to a doctor about.

Worryingly, 62% of people would be embarrassed to discuss depression with their peer group and 77% of people think depression is not well understood.

'Over the past four years, Mind Yourself – The Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer has provided us with a gauge in which to assess public perceptions towards depression and other mental illnesses, as well as providing us with insights into the personal experiences of those with depression and anxiety disorder, said Dr. Eamonn Shanahan, GP. 'When compared with previous Mind Yourself research, it is positive to see the public perception of depression as a stigmatising condition has dropped from 72% in 2005 to 66% in 2008. However it is worrying to see that only 71% of people in 2008 said they would consult a GP if somebody they knew was suffering from depression, compared to 80% in 2007. It is important that we continue to foster an environment where depression and other mental illnesses can be openly discussed, as this will help people to successfully manage their condition,' Dr Shanahan continued.

Mind Yourself – The Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer has also revealed that when compared with other illnesses in terms of perceived disruptiveness, depression (59%) was rated above Parkinson's diseases (57%), heart disease (40%), anxiety disorder (29%), arthritis (24%), diabetes (16%) and asthma (14%). Mind Yourself – The Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer also assessed public perception towards anxiety disorder in Ireland. 60% of people think there is social stigma attached to the condition. 63% of women compared to 37% of men have personally experienced anxiety disorder and there is greater awareness of anxiety disorder among women (48%) compared to men (39%).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that depression is currently ranked as the second most disabling medical disorder in the age category 15-44 for both men and women. In Ireland it is estimated that some 400,000 people suffer from depression at any one time. Symptoms may include feeling unhappy most of the time, a loss of interest in life, feeling anxious, agitated or irritable, feeling guilty, feeling tired a lot of the time or low energy levels. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and/or are having any thoughts of suicide or death, talk to a healthcare professional or with groups such as AWARE on 1890 303 302.