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Is Depression A Common Occurrence?

Depression is a very real and common occurrence in our society today. As our society has become increasingly competitive, stressful and busy, more and more people are struggling to cope with the mounting pressure on their lives. The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately 450 million people throughout the world are affected by mental health problems, with depression as one of the major categories of mental health distress affecting people (Overcome Depression, 2009).

Overall, mental health around the world is a significant issue, with the number of people suffering from some form of mental distress growing year by year. The Office for National Statistics in the United Kingdom (2009) estimates that one in six adults at any one time have 'significant' mental health problems. Another major survey that is frequently quoted puts the figure at one in four, using a wider definition of mental health problems (Mind, 2009).

The breakdown below gives an overview of mental health in Britain alone, showing the forms of treatment commonly required:

  • Around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain
  • 230 of these will visit a GP
  • 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health problem
  • 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service
  • 6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals (Mind, 2009; Based on figures from Goldberg, D. & Huxley, P, 1992, Common mental disorders a bio-social model, Routledge.)

Depression Fact
Approximately 12 million adults see their GPs with mental health problems each year in the UK
Mental Health Foundation

According to the National Health Service (NHS, 2009), in the UK, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems, and the majority of cases are caused by stress. NHS research shows that approximately 15% of people suffer a bout of severe depression at some point in their lives. This figure is likely to be even higher as many people who suffer from depression do not get help, or are not formally diagnosed with the condition.

Despite these high statistics depression should never be considered a normal part of life. Depression is a very serious mental health condition that requires medical treatment and ongoing management. Being able to recognise the symptoms and causes of depression is the key to understanding your depression and seeking the right treatment and management techniques for these negative emotions.

As a society, we still have a long way to go in providing effective treatment and support for sufferers of depression. Community education and awareness on mental illness including depression is essential in allowing for the development of appropriate services and support facilities for depression sufferers. Awareness and acceptance of mental health issues in our society will also allow depression sufferers to be more open in recognising their condition, understanding their mental health and seeking help.

As a sufferer of depression, admitting the problem and seeking help is one of the hardest things to do, however it is the only positive step you can take in gaining control of your life and managing your negative emotions. Take that step today!

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