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Canadians living with depression underestimate perceptions of illness

(NC)—An estimated three million Canadians will experience depression in their lifetime and people with the illness say that the stigma as a result of their depression can be worse than the illness itself.

“A Leger Marketing survey reveals that most Canadians with depression feel their illness is not perceived by the public as a medical condition or a serious illness (81 per cent), but in fact less than five per cent of the general population actually has that view,” said Phil Upshall, National Executive Director, Mood Disorders Society of Canada. “Our hope is that recognizing that Canadians have a more empathetic view of depression may encourage more individuals living with the illness to take prompt and proper action to help manage their depression.”

In fact, the majority of Canadians (72 per cent) recognize depression as both serious and treatable. The concern is that stigma may be preventing Canadians living with this illness from seeking the best possible treatment and care.

Results from the survey show that overall, Canadians with depression are slow to seek professional help. While 90 per cent of those suffering from the illness sensed there was something wrong prior to being diagnosed, nearly half took more than six months to discuss the issue with their healthcare professional and nearly 20 per cent said they were hesitant to take action because they were afraid of the reaction from family and friends.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, people are able to manage their depression. For Canadians that do seek help, anti-depressant use is the most common approach to managing depression (92 per cent), followed by psychotherapy (71 per cent) and through diet, exercise and/or light therapy (45 per cent).

“The good news is that overall satisfaction with medication is high,” said Dr. Jeff Habert. “What is concerning though, is that many of those who stopped taking their medication did so about six years ago, largely due to side effects, or fear of them. However, with increased awareness and changing attitudes, we've made great advancements with newer and better-tolerated medications.”

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