More women than men in Havering seek help for depression: Why?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:39 18 January 2016
Almost half of adults experience one episode of depression during their lifetime and worrying new figures show prevalence in Havering is on the rise.
Depression is one of the most common mental health problems yet still often goes unrecognised, even by those suffering from it.
In Havering about 9,300 adults have a diagnosis of depression, or one in 20 people.
But NHS figures show there has been a 22 per cent rise in prescriptions for anti-depressants in the borough since 2011.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Darlington Daniel, of NELFT NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in Havering, said this may reflect better treatment locally.
“One of our strategies was to educate GPs on more effective treatment of depression and part of that is to start anti-depressants early enough to ensure depression is treated very quickly.
“That may partly explain why there is an increase in the use of anti-depressants as a whole.”
Depression leaves people feeling unhappy, anxious and often causes them to lose hope for the future.
Untreated it can become a severe illness and suicide remains an important cause of premature death in the UK.
The Recorder’s investigation, using NHS data, has shown women in Havering are twice as likely to have diagnosed depression as men.
Some 6pc of women in the borough have been treated for depression compared to 3pc of men and the age group most at risk is women aged 25 to 44.
Emily Jones, 39, of Rainham, experienced post-natal depression after the birth of her third child, Darcey, but was able to seek support.
She said: “I was at home and it was my husband’s second day back. Darcey wouldn’t stop crying and, at the time, I didn’t know that was because she had colic. I screamed so loud my neighbour heard me.
“She came over, sat me down and got me to call my health visitor. She came to my house in less than an hour and got me the help I needed.
“I had depression before so luckily I knew the signs and 12 months later my life is so different.”
This week the government announced £290m up to 2020 will be used to give more women each year access to specialist mental health care after giving birth.
While women are more likely to be in contact with mental health services, the group at highest risk of suicide in Havering is men aged 40 to 44.
The Havering Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, a blueprint of current and future mental health needs, says: “This may be due to men being far less likely to present to a mental health practitioner with such problems, in line with the national picture.
“Nationally suicide rates are three to four times higher in men than women and this pattern is reflected locally.”
The data shows depression increases a person’s overall risk of mortality by 50 per cent and doubles the risk of coronary heart disease in adults. Poor mental health and well-being can have an impact on every area of a person’s life – their physical health, education, employment, family relationships, and the effects can last a lifetime.
This is why the Recorder is encouraging readers to speak out to end the stigma through our Mind Your Mental Health campaign.