A new national survey reveals a vast gap between how Canadians living with depression view their condition, compared to how it is viewed in reality by the general population, possibly preventing them from seeking the best treatment and care. Most Canadians with depression feel their illness is not perceived by the public as a medical condition or a serious illness (81 per cent) when in fact less than five per cent of the general population actually has that view. In fact, the majority of Canadians (72 per cent) recognize depression as both serious and treatable.
"It was a pleasant surprise that the majority of Canadians not only recognize depression is a serious, but treatable illness, but their knowledge of the symptoms is on par with those diagnosed Canadians," 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."
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.
Managing Perceptions of Depression in Daily Life
An estimated three million Canadians will experience depression in their lifetime, and the illness effects on daily life can be devastating. Eight in ten diagnosed Canadians say their depression at least sometimes impacts their ability to function in their social life, including events such as attending social engagements (82 per cent) or leisure activities (80 percent). For those Canadians who have a spouse with depression, 86 per cent state the symptoms have impacted their relationship and 42 per cent state it has been significant.
Depression can strike at any age, but most Canadians that experience depression in their lifetime, will be affected in their working years, between the ages of 24 and 44. At any one time one in 20 employees can experience depression.
While the impact on productivity can be significant, employers may not recognize how relationships with co-workers can also be impacting performance. Most (67 per cent) respondents said their depression impacts their relationship with co-workers, with half avoiding contact altogether and nearly 40 per cent spending their non-work, workday hours in areas where no one else is around.
Survey findings demonstrate that Canadians are empathetic to those returning to work from disability as a result of their depression; Canadians living with depression report they were most commonly greeted with positive reactions from co-workers saying they either carried on as usual (42 per cent), were understanding and supportive (36 per cent), or offered to assist them with their work (11 per cent).