Depression is certainly a growing problem in society and unquestionably within the UK, don’t you think? We individuals are not very good at dealing with others’ depression though, are we? No, it is a mental illness you see, and we really can’t cope with that kind of thing can we? Physical things we are able to handle – whether it be broken limbs or at the other extreme heart transplants. But when it is anything to do with the brain, which alters sufferers’ behaviour, we are well out of it – so the physically disabled we have come to terms with these days, but any permanent mental disability or temporary disablement sends us into limbo, doesn’t it?
In Britain in a year a quarter of all people will suffer a mental problem, a tenth of all adults will suffer depression or anxiety, and a fifth of older people will be affected by depression. All of that is bad enough, but there are another hidden group of forgotten people who never even get a look-in – never get a mention, never get dealt with, never get on the radar as they say. Yes, these are the people who are in hospital for physical illnesses (and the elderly are more likely to end up there). Some of them get there as average members of the community, so will inevitably arrive there ‘already’ suffering from depression. But if someone is removed, often suddenly, from their home and community, and hospitalised then understandably it regularly causes serious anxiety. In particular where severe or life threatening illness is involved, it can result in harsh clinical depression, especially if the illness has been progressive, surely?
So we would expect all the hospitals to be well geared-up for dealing with patient depression wouldn’t we? Well, it doesn’t seem to be like that, does it? In the community our GPs regularly treat depression – unfortunately predominately with pills when other treatment (like talking therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling) is often better but more expensive as it involves resources! Hospital doctors don’t even try to go there though – they seem to see their work as fixing the physical problems and that’s it. This is despite the fact that sorting out physical illness can get delayed by depressive symptoms – no wonder there is a shortage of beds and NHS money, eh?
Depression when hospitalized is a risk factor being ignored by Senior doctors & all else, despite the fact that it doubles the length of stay and disturbingly also doubles the death rate of the elderly. [Is this actually known about? Oh yes for the past three years when Cambridge research was published, and last year the Lancet reported that that one-third of intensive care patients (the survivers no less) had depression causing physical symptoms – why then no dramatic changes?]..
Visitors to hospital patients will quickly and easily spot the signs of depression – like the low spirit, feelings of hopelessness, disinterest, negativity, poor appetite, energy loss, irritability, and downbeat mind-set. Somehow or other the trained medical staff seem to have missed it all though – strange eh? No treatment going on generally then for that condition, just marvellous doctoring and nursing care with plenty of medication for the physical issues. Is it any wonder that patents select a DNR (do not resuscitate) treatment option, that surely they are incapable of legitimately signing-up for if suffering from depression?
You see you have to understand the training of senior doctors like Consultants. They qualify as doctors after five or six years at medical school, where they have been taught about depression amongst thousands of other things; then they get on the job training and study further to specialise – perhaps fifteen years to get to be a hospital Consultant? They have to keep well up-to-date and a heart surgeon say probably hasn’t visited depression since their long distant medical school days. You could suspect then that they are a trice out-of-touch perhaps?
Hospital patients’ medical folder is impressively thick these days with blood pressure & temperature graphs, X-ray results, ECG printouts, CAT scan reports, blood tests analysis, urine measurements & bowl movement records, drug administered histories, and the like with copious notes – but is there a daily ‘depression status’ evaluation and ‘depression treatment plan’, one might wonder?
[Anyone suffering from depression when hospitalized can be helped to get better by their amateur visiting family and friends– just basic ‘talking therapy’ can work wonders]