The vaccine rollout may be hastening the end of the pandemic but the damage to mental health has already been done, suggests new research. The new
The vaccine rollout may be hastening the end of the pandemic but the damage to mental health has already been done, suggests new research. The new report conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates the scale of the impact the pandemic has had on mental health. It has found rates of depression have more than doubled since before the coronavirus pandemic, yet despite this public health crisis, fewer people than ever have been seeking help from their GP.
Just over a fifth of people in Britain experienced some form of depression between January 27 and March 7 2021, more than double the pre-pandemic figure, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The impact was felt more acutely in younger adults, women and people who live alone – with 43 percent of women aged between 16 to 29 reporting some form of depression.
Worryingly, the data also shows a decline in the number of people seeking help for their depression.
The ONS found that during the first stage of the pandemic between March 23 and August 31 2020, there was almost a 30 percent drop in the number of people being diagnosed with depression by their GP compared to 2019.
The term is often generally applied to bad moods but it is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days, explains the NHS.
“Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.”
According to mental health charity Mind, you might feel:
- Down, upset or tearful
- Restless, agitated or irritable
- Guilty, worthless and down on yourself
- Empty and numb
- Isolated and unable to relate to other people
- Finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy
- A sense of unreality
- No self-confidence or self-esteem
- Hopeless and despairing.
How to respond
“It’s important to seek help from a GP if you think you may be depressed,” says the NHS.
As the health body points out, many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it’s best not to delay.
“The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.”
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.
Treatment for depression can involve a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine
According to Mind, a self-help resource might be the first treatment option your doctor offers you, especially if your depression is mild.
“This is because it’s available quite quickly, and there’s a chance it could help you to feel better without needing to try other options,” explains the charity.
Self-help could be delivered through:
- A self-help programme. For example, your GP might recommend you work through a self-help programme, often called a self-help manual. A healthcare professional should provide you with support and check your progress, either face-to-face or over the phone
- A computer-based CBT programme for depression. Your GP might refer to this as computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT). Some people find CCBT helps them understand their depression and challenge negative thoughts. Beating the Blues is an example of a CCBT programme that you might find helpful
- A physical activity programme. Your GP might recommend that you join a group exercise class. These are specifically designed for people with depression and run by qualified professionals.
“If self-help, computerised cognitive behavioural therapy or physical activity have not helped you, you might also be offered an antidepressant medication,” explains the charity.
There are different types of antidepressant:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclics and tricyclic-related drugs
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Other antidepressants.