Depressed Canadians slow to seek help: survey
By KATHLEEN HARRIS, QMI AGENCY
Last Updated: September 28, 2010
OTTAWA — Canadians suffering from depression are often slow to get help — often because they fear stigma and negative reaction from friends, family and co-workers.
Two national Leger Marketing surveys — one specifically targeting those diagnosed with depression and another polling the general population — found that a perceived lack of understanding from peers prevents many depressed Canadians from getting timely treatment, even though most Canadians are actually empathetic and understanding of the condition.
Only 15% of Canadians with depression think the public views it as a serious but treatable illness, though the other poll reveals 72% actually do.
Phil Upshall, national executive director of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, said the surveys reveal a significant shift in public attitude and understanding of mental illness.
"I'm very glad the people of Canada are starting to recognize mental illness as a health issue and not an issue of weakness or personality problems," he told QMI Agency. "That moves us a long way — now our legislators have got to get on side."
Upshall said the focus on mental illness in the military and federal bureaucracy has also helped raise awareness and lift the stigma.
The survey found nearly half of people who sensed something was wrong took more than six months to see a health-care professional. Almost 20% were hesitant to take action because they feared the reaction from family and friends.
While depression can strike at any age, onset usually occurs between 24 and 44 years old. Impact on work productivity can be significant; 67% of respondents said their depression affects their relationship with co-workers, half reported avoiding contact altogether and nearly 40% spend their non-work, workday hours in areas where no one else is around.
The other survey found most Canadians are empathetic to those returning to work from disability as a result of their depression. Canadians living with depression report they were most commonly greeted with positive reactions from co-workers, saying they either carried on as usual (42%), were understanding and supportive (36%), or offered to assist them with their work (11%).
Using anti-depressants is the most common approach to managing depression (92%), followed by talk therapy or counselling (71%) and through diet, exercising and/or light therapy (45%).
Pfizer Canada, Mood Disorders Society of Canada and Shepell.fgi sponsored the surveys. One was conducted in May, using a national random sample of 810 respondents from a medical web panel who have been diagnosed with depression, yielding a maximum margin of error of 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The survey of general population adult Canadians was also conducted in May, using a national random sample of 1,587 respondents from Leger Marketing’s web panel, giving a maximum margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Stan J. Rog
- After, completing a very successful run at university and acquiring the necessary degrees and accolades to be part of the academic community, I left the confines of the Ivory Tower and started my private practice. In university, I was fortunate to study with some great mentors and have a very solid scientific background. Although science has its place, psychology is also an art. An art that requires a very strong link to one's own intuition. Even though I may be proud of my scientific and academic accomplishments, I am equally proud to have studied several types of meditation, yoga, Pilates, martial arts, Zen, Buddhism, Japanese calligraphy, comparative religious studies, and a variety of great therapies that are part of my consciousness. Apart from being a psychologist, I have certification in fitness training and behavioral nutrition. Although, psychotherapy is about problems, it is also about empowerment, growth, and grace. We should feel good about psychotherapy as a tool to get us where we really should be in life, with no judgment and with peace of mind.