6.3 Depression

The current estimate is that one in five adults in the UK will be affected by depression at some point, with the highest number being in the 50-54 age group. Out of these, a higher percentage is women. It is frighteningly beginning to affect younger people too. 19% of UK 16 pluses have reported depression to their GP. Certain demographics do appear to be at greater risk than others. 27% of people who are divorced or separated show signs of the condition compared to 16% of those that are married. Other groups such as those on a low income or unemployed also show greater incidences of depression. The thing is depression can be a real tricky one as the feelings that we can get are a normal part of the human experience on occasion. Often in the early stages at least, it is difficult for the sufferer and those around them to distinguish normal highs and lows from depression of a more serious nature.

Certain neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease affect specific regions of the brain. Depression seems to affect multiple regions such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala and thalamus. We are still in the very early days when it comes to determining the precise pathophysiology of depression, but one thing that is clear is that there is a series of abnormalities in the production of neurotransmitters and their ability to instigate relevant responses.