According to the latest statistics from the Department of Health, around 13 per cent of adults living in Northern Ireland have been diagnosed with depression and are currently living with the illness.
These statistics are for people who have been diagnosed with depression following a visit to their GP and it is likely that the number of people who are living with undiagnosed depression is much higher.
This week marks 2014 Depression Awareness Week (April 26 - May 3). The purpose of the week is to raise awareness of the illness of depression to people across the UK and to help educate them about the illness and the importance of looking after their mental health.
It is important to remember that depression is a stigmatised illness and therefore people may not feel comfortable talking about how they are feeling to family and friends. A lot of the time people will be living with the illness undiagnosed and therefore not receiving the appropriate treatment and help them recover.
Aware Defeat Depression is a charity local to every community. They run a network of over 20 support groups in cities, towns and villages throughout Northern Ireland. They are also working within communities across the country providing education and training programmes aimed at helping people understand importance of looking after their mental health.
Siobhan Doherty, Chief Executive of Aware Defeat Depression said: “The increase of depression diagnosis isn’t unsurprising but it does send out a clear message that there are a lot of people suffering from this devastating illness and need help. Our organisation aims to help these people in the form of support and care through our Support Groups and Education programmes.
“We also know from people using our services and getting in touch using our helpline that they are often reluctant or afraid to visit their GP. We would encourage people to visit their GP if they are experiencing the symptoms of depression, which can include an unusually sad mood that doesn’t go away, loss of enjoyment in activities that used to be enjoyable, or tiredness and lack of energy. The visit to the GP to obtain a diagnosis is a crucial part of the recovery process in depression.
“During Depression Awareness Week we will be promoting our blog called ‘I am Depression Aware’ which allows real people to share their experience of what it’s like living with depression and self-help tips they take to improve low mood. We will also be launching a video called, “Depression: Our Journey.” All those taking part in the video have had personal experience of depression and will be talking about what depression was like for them, and how far they have come now since using our services.
“We will also be encouraging people to visit our website which has a range of extensive information on depression, the treatments, self-help tips, Cognitive Behavioural therapy and much more.”
For more information log on to www.aware-ni.org