Over two in five people in Ireland would not want to know if a loved one was experiencing depression according to findings in the 2011 Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer. Despite this, 93% of respondents agree that it is important that depression is discussed openly. However, when asked if they would find it difficult to discuss depression with their doctor 70% agreed.

The Barometer provides insights into Irish people's attitudes towards mental health. This year's research has illustrated that while people have become more aware of depression, they still do not have a clear understanding of what it is, and those who do experience it are reluctant to speak to a healthcare professional about it.

The research findings indicate that depression has become more visible over the past six years. In 2006 18% of those who personally had depression, or who had a family member with depression, said that many or some people would have been aware. This year that number has grown to 53% which may illustrate a greater degree of awareness around the condition.

Stigma continues to be an underlying issue with 60% of respondents saying that they consider depression to be stigmatising. Statistics in the research also revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of people believe that depression is not an illness but a "state of mind". These findings indicate that while awareness of depression has grown, there is still a degree of ignorance around the condition.

Dr Harry Barry, a Louth based GP, said, "It is worrying that 42% of people wouldn't want their friend or family member to discuss their depression with them. Sometimes people just need to talk. It can be the first step towards recovery. By providing a sympathetic ear and encouraging them to get professional help they could be making a real difference in their friend's life. While 70% do say they would find it difficult to talk to their doctor it is reassuring that so many people (77%) cite the GP as the first person to contact for information about depression. So while there is still a reluctance to discuss it at least people know where to go. Mental health difficulties can be very distressing, not just for the person experiencing, but for their loved ones. Approaching a healthcare professional for assistance is one of the most important steps a person can make in taking responsibility for their mental health."

Eithne Boyan, Managing Director of Lundbeck Ireland said, "The Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer provides us with useful insights into how mental health is viewed by the Irish people and we expand our understanding year on year. Depression is a condition that affects all members of our community and we all have our part to play in understanding and supporting those with depression. As specialist in psychiatry Lundbeck have a particular role in education, and the Barometer results show there is still quite a bit of misunderstanding about mental health issues, and depression in particular."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that depression is currently the second most disabling medical disorder in the age category 15-44. In Ireland it is estimated that some 400,000 people experience from depression at any one time. Symptoms may include feeling unhappy most of the time, a loss of interest in life, feeling anxious, agitated or irritable, feeling guilty, changes to sleeping patterns, change in appetite, feeling tired a lot of the time or low energy levels. If a person is experiencing any of the above symptoms and/or are having any thoughts of suicide or death, it is advised that they talk to a healthcare professional or with groups such as Aware on 1890 303 302.


This study is based on data from a survey of the adult population, undertaken by Behaviour & Attitudes for Lundbeck. Fieldwork was completed in April 2011 among a nationally representative, quota controlled sample of 998 adults aged 16+. The sample mirrors the national population structure, based on the census of population, in terms of sex, age region and area of residence, and matches industry-agreed standards in respect of social class. Interviewing was undertaken face to face in-home, and interviewers were closely supervised and monitored. Survey design, fieldwork and analysis conform with the strict quality standards dictated by Behaviour & Attitudes membership of ESOMAR (European Code) and the Market Research Society (UK).

Lundbeck Mental Health Barometer