Almost two in three people would find it difficult to discuss depression with their doctor, while a similar number would be too embarrassed to discuss the condition with a friend, a new report has found.
According to the report, stigma is still a major problem when it comes to depression. In fact, 57% of people surveyed who had experienced it felt that there was ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of social stigma attached to the condition.
Furthermore while three in four people feel there is now greater awareness of depression, 83% said that it is still not that well understood.
“Depression is a very common medical condition, with an estimated 300,000 people affected in Ireland. If left untreated, it will progress and possibly worsen, which is why talking to a health professional about it is so important”, said Professor Timothy Dinan, a consultant psychiatrist at Cork University Hospital.
The report found that depression was seen as a very disruptive condition. In terms of perceived disruptiveness, 64% thought depression was highly disruptive. This was higher than heart disease (64%), arthritis (33%) and diabetes (18%)
Commenting on the findings, Kilkenny GP, Dr Ronan Fawsitt, pointed out that GPs are often the first health professional a patient will discuss this problem with. As a result, GPs can play a big part in helping to break down the stigma associated with this condition.
“Depression is such a common condition that the level of embarrassment surrounding it is unwarranted. We need to foster an environment where it can be openly discussed, as this will help people successfully manage their condition in the long run”, Dr Fawsitt said.
The report also looked at the impact of stress on people. Altogether, 34% of people claim to experience stress, with the greatest levels appearing in Dublin (44%) in comparison to the rest of Leinster (32%), Munster (31%) and Connacht and Ulster (27%).