MORE than 60,000 people living in Sheffield suffer from depression or anxiety, according to the National Health Service.
This week is Depression Awareness Week, and city mental health expert Professor Tim Kendall has offered his advice on steps that can be taken to ward off the condition.
“There are ways to reduce the risk of developing anxiety and depression, which are the most common mental health conditions,” said Prof Kendall.
“If anxiety or depression is affecting your ability to function - for example if you can’t go to work, or when you’re there you can’t function - make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible.” The professor, medical director of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, added: “GPs will ask patients a set of questions to assess how long they have been feeling unwell, and if it’s been over a sustained period of time, which means more than two weeks.
“If this is the case and you have anxiety and depression then you will be referred for some help to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service. In Sheffield all GP practices host these services.”
Prof Kendall said people should first look after their physical health to reduce their chances of becoming depressed.
“Research shows that depression commonly accompanies chronic physical ill-health, such as heart disease and diabetes. Follow the recommended advice on healthy eating and take regular exercise,” he said.
Developing a good social life and being in work also lessens the risk, said the medic. “Having supportive people around you reduces the chances of becoming socially isolated and excluded. Being in work and having an income significantly reduces the chance of developing a mental health problem. Work that is meaningful, in which the person feels valued, also enhances self- confidence and self-esteem.
“Many people don’t realise that drinking alcohol above safe levels raises the risk of developing a mental health episode. Stick to the recommendations on alcohol consumption, no more than 14 units a week for women and 21 for men. A unit is a small glass of wine, a measure of spirits or half a pint of lager or beer.”