Almost 40% of the general public are not aware of the symptoms of depression, the results of a new survey have found. This is despite the fact that around 300,000 Irish people are affected by the illness.
The survey found that among those who could name a symptom, 21% pinpointed feeling down or low most of the time, while 13% said feeling tired all of the time. A further 13% knew that disrupted sleep was a symptom, while 12% said changes in eating patterns. Other symptoms mentioned included being anxious and a having a lack of energy.
Commenting on the high number of people who were unaware of the symptoms, Professor Patricia McKenna, a consultant psychiatrist at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, said that these results further demonstrate the need for public education on this issue.
“Depression continues to be an illness that is under-reported and this can be partly attributed to the lack of understanding among the general public as to what constitutes depression”, Professor McKenna said.
Many people continue to suffer in silence for various reasons, including misunderstandings about treatment and the stigma associated with mental health illnesses, she added.
The survey also asked respondents who they thought was most likely to suffer from depression. Almost one in four – 24% – felt that only certain people were at risk of experiencing depression. The illness can however affect anyone. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that depressive illness will be the second most disabling medical disorder by 2010.
When asked about treatments for depression, one-quarter of respondents were unable to name a single one. However 43% did mention counselling, while 21% identified antidepressants.