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Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK


Health

Money is the root of .... depression

Money worries can lead to depression

Whether money is the root of all evil is a moot point, but research has found that it is often the cause of depression.

Slightly more people rated money as a likely cause of depression than a death or illness in the family.

The survey, by the National Depression Campaign, found that financial problems were cited by 88% of people as a trigger for depression.

Eighty-seven per cent agreed that a death or illness in the family could cause problems.

Next on the list were:

  • Work worries - 83%
  • Marriage problems - 81%

Biological factors such as hormonal or chemical imbalances were considered less important, with only seven in 10 people agreeing they could trigger depression.

The survey was based on interviews with 1,069 people selected to be representative of the population in general.

A second study also published on Wednesday shows that GP consultations for depression have more than doubled since 1994.

Experts said that they believed the rise was not because depression was increasing but because more people were going to their GP and doctors were becoming better at treating the condition.

Nine million consultations for depression were conducted in 1998, compared with four million in 1994.

The survey of 600 GPs found regional variations in the levels of depression.

People in the Midlands and the south east are less likely to suffer than those in the rest of the country, while the Welsh are most prone to depression.

Doctors criticised

The studies were launched by the National Depression Campaign (NDC) as part of National Depression Week, which aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding the condition.

The NDC believes too many doctors do not prescribe correct doses of anti-depressants, and stop medication too early.

GPs were also accused of reserving the better and more expensive drugs like Prozac and SSRIs for younger people.

Elderly patients were more likely to be prescribed the older generation of Tricyclic drugs which can have more adverse side effects.

Research has shown that patients should continue with anti-depressant medication for six months after they feel their condition has improved.

But the survey of GPs revealed that half of patients had stopped taking their medication by the third month of treatment.

Doctors also said that they prescribed an average dose of 64.8mg of Tricyclic anti-depressants a day, despite the recommended dose being 125mg.

The low doses mean patients suffer from the side effects of the drug but did not benefit from its anti-depressant features.

Dr Simon Chapman, chair of the National Depression Campaign, said: "Treatment for depression has improved over the last few years but doctors do need better training and education to make sure they are prescribing the right doses for the right amount of time."

Expensive problem

One in four women and one in 10 men in the UK will suffer a period of depression serious enough to require treatment, while up to 20% of children may require support and help for depression-related problems, according to recent research.

Depression costs the nation more than £8bn a year in medical care, lost production and social security bills.

Only half of all depressed people consult their GP and the National Depression Campaign wants to encourage more people to seek treatment.

It also wants to highlight the role of family and friends in caring for sufferers.

Campaign chairman Rodney Elgie said: "Although extremely common, depression is a much misunderstood illness.

"This is particularly true when a close friend or member of the family is affected, sometimes for no apparent reason."

He added: "There is a real need to provide carers with reliable and practical help, advice and support."

Dr David Baldwin, a lecturer in psychiatry at Southampton University, said families could play a vital role in recognising when a relative was depressed, encouraging them to seek professional help, and supporting them while they were undergoing treatment.

He said: "For the more serious forms of depression there is strong evidence that people who are treated do much better both in the short term and the long term."



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