The number of people living with depression in England has increased by nearly half a million in three years, according to an analysis of NHS data. The data suggested the largest percentage increase was in Yorkshire and the Humber, where the number of registered cases increased by 19%. The total number for 2010-11 stood at 4.7 million people.

What could be causing the increase?

It would not be wrong to immediately think that something bad was happening in Yorkshire and Humber with the statistic above but does the number really tell the whole story? Sure, people are affected by job losses and relationship breakdowns in the current economic climate but depression triggers have been around for a long time.

Along with triggers, the shift in society’s perceptions of depression and the ability of doctors diagnosing it has improved. More people are coming forwards as the stigma of depression is decreasing as more knowledge about it spreads and they are getting the right diagnosis and treatment available.

So where does that rate Yorkshire and Humber? Are depression levels getting worse or is treatment and outreach getting better? Again, the answer is not clear. Another study found that 71 percent of patients said they wanted to conceal their depression from other people. This troublesome finding means that people with depression may not seek treatment and remain uncounted.

While the statistics and data are useful tools to research the levels of depression and give some clarity over the disease, the key points to understand are more granular. How do you reach out to a depressed person? How do you identify and diagnose someone? How to correctly give the proper support and treatment?

Symptoms of depression include:

Psychological symptoms:
Losing interest in life
Not coping with things that used to be manageable
Finding it harder to make decisions
Continuous low mood or sadness
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
Low self-esteem
Feelings of guilt
Feeling irritable and intolerant of others

Physical symptoms:
Slowed movement or speech
Change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
Unexplained aches and pains
Lack of energy or lack of interest in sex
Changes to the menstrual cycle
Disturbed sleep patterns (for example, problems going to sleep or waking in the early hours of the morning)


It may be enough to talk things over with a relative or friend. If this doesn’t help, talk it over with your family doctor.

Talk to someone close to you about how you feel. Going over a painful experience and crying it out can help you come to terms with it.

Get some regular exercise. This will help you keep fit and hopefully, sleep better. Do jobs around the house to take your mind off thoughts that make you depressed.

Eat well, even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t drink alcohol, as this makes depression worse, although it might not seem to at first.

If you can’t sleep, try not to worry about it. Do something relaxing in bed such as reading, watching TV or listening to the radio.

If you know what is making you depressed, write it down and think of ways to tackle it. Pick the best ones and see if they help.

Keep hopeful – this is a very common experience and you will come through it, probably stronger and more able to cope than before.


Helping someone who is depressed

Listen to them but try not to judge them. Don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. If you can see the problem behind the depression, you can help the person to find a solution.

Spend time with them, listen to their problems and encourage them to keep going with activities in their routine.

If they’re getting worse, encourage them to visit their doctor and get help.