Cash Worries That 'Can Lead to a Spiral of Depression'; THE MENTAL AGONY SUFFERED BY ONE IN FOUR BRITONS

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH COLLCUTT

ONE in four Britons suffers from serious depression at some stage in their lives, according to a study by health professionals.

And most cases are believed to be triggered by financial worries.

The number of GP consultations for the illness have more than doubled since 1994, reveals a report published yesterday at the launch of National Depression Week.

There are wide regional variations in the number of people suffering from depression, with the highest amount of cases recorded in Wales and the lowest in the Midlands and South East. Figures are linked to income level, wealth distribution and job opportunities, say experts.

Statistics also show that up to 20 per cent of children may require support for depression-related problems.

The condition costs Britain more than [pounds sterling]8bil-lion a year in health care, loss of productivity and social security benefits. The World Health Organisation predicts that in 20 years' time depression will be the 'second most burdensome illness in the world'.

A survey commissioned for National Depression Week - which aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding the condition - shows that the illness is still being wrongly diagnosed and treated by many doctors.

Last year there were nine million consultations for depression compared to four million in 1994 - yet 60 per cent of patients were wrongly prescribed drugs.

There is also evidence that the new generation of antidepressant drugs, such as Prozac, are being denied elderly patients in favour of cheaper, but less effective, alternatives. …