Depression: don’t brush it aside

Depression: don’t brush it aside

The NHS in West Lancashire is hoping the storyline of one the country’s most popular soaps will encourage local men to think about mental health issues.

Millions of people have watched ITV Coronation Street’s Steve McDonald come to terms with depression – the most common mental health disorder in the UK. Steve struggles to accept that depression can happen to someone like him.

Every year in the UK over 4,500 men kill themselves. Suicide is now the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20–49 in England and Wales, with men accounting for 78 per cent of all suicides in the UK while female suicide rates are declining.

Generally, men don’t always feel comfortable talking about their mental health concerns due to the stigma associated with it, which means illnesses like depression and anxiety can go undetected and untreated.

Depression affects how you think and feel about yourself but, like a physical illness, depression can be managed with treatment. Signs and symptoms can include all or some of the following:

• Lack of interest in work, hobbies and doing things you normally enjoy
• Low energy levels and lack of motivation
• Trouble sleeping
• Sleeping too much
• Lack of concentration
• Increased anxiety
• Anger or irritability

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in the UK. Stress and feelings of anxiety are to be expected in stressful situations, the feeling normally goes away after that situation has passed. With an anxiety disorder, these feelings don’t go away. Signs and symptoms include:

• Hot and cold flushes
• Racing heart
• Tightening of the chest
• Snowballing worries
• Obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour

Dr John Caine, a local GP and chair of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Men are often less likely to talk about their wellbeing – whether that’s psychological or physical – due to them thinking there is a stigma of appearing week or vulnerable.

“We want men to push this to one side and to feel confident enough to talk openly about any concerns they have about their mental health so they’re not suffering in silence. Not talking about it can be detrimental to your long-term health.”

Men, who are registered with a GP in West Lancs, and are over 16, can get mental health support at the Goal Difference support group in Skelmersdale. To find out more about Goal Difference and the other options available to you, contact the Mindsmatter team on 01695 588254.

To find out more about men’s depression, visit www.thecalmzone.net