Depression: don’t brush it aside

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

Millions of people have watched 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 passes after that situations 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 Alex Gaw, a local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We want men to feel more comfortable talking about their wellbeing – both physical and psychological and talk about their mental health concerns. Men are often more likely to bottle up their thoughts due to the stigma of appearing vulnerable. If you recognise any of the symptoms then talk to your GP as early as possible — suffering in silence can have an effect on your long-term health.”

To find out more about men’s depression and support, visit www.thecalmzone.net or call 0800 58 58 58