Essex: Number of people with depression set to leap by more than 1,000 by 2014

THE number of people with depression in north-east Essex is predicted to leap by more than 1,000 in just two years, new figures reveal.

Bosses at North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) have said they expect the number of those thought to have the condition to rise to 29,200 in 2014 - compared to 27,900 last year.

Ruth Jordan, clinical lead for Health in Mind, a service commissioned by the PCT, said they were seeing more depression among those struggling to cope in the harsh financial climate.

She said: “There are a proportion of people now that are coming to us because of the economic downturn, people are out of work and that makes people depressed.

“They are also having trouble accessing their benefits and things are being restructured and that’s stressful.

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“The other explanation is to do with people coming forward and they are being referred more. People know we’re here with the psychological therapy services.

“People are recognising it more in themselves too and are asking for help. I worked in psychology years ago and there was a huge stigma, but that has now changed. It’s more talked about.”

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She added north-east Essex was moving away from relying on treating the condition with anti-depressants, instead offering alternatives like workshops, cognitive behavioural therapy and “guided self-help”.

Her comments come as figures over the border in Suffolk reveal the number of those with depression jumped from 61,667 in 2008/09 to 68,002 in 2010/11.

Ezra Hewing, community development manager at Suffolk Mind, said services to treat depression in the county were “evolving” and there was “room for improvement”.

Referring to the 6,000 hike, he added: “It’s not a good statistic, but I’m not surprised.

“There are lots of factors, I think depression is a precursed by worrying and ruminations and at the moment with job uncertainty, the economy, there’s lots of things for people to worry about.

“I think there’s isolation among older people and that’s an issue. There’s also expectations on young people in terms of the lifestyle they are expected to fund and what they have to do to get approval of their peers.

“We see people who are labelled the “worried well”, which is a change from 10, 15, 20 years ago. They are people who hold down jobs and participate in family life but maybe worried about things that will affect their ability to support their family, such as job security.”

Earlier this year Suffolk Mind revealed it had seen a sharp rise in the number of people using its services, from 1,401 in 2009/10 to 6,770 in 2011/12.

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