New national research involving a representative sample of 1,200 Australians aged 18 and above who have either suffered from, or have a family history of depression, gauged their understanding of, and attitude towards the disease and its current management and treatment.
The research was commissioned by Organon (Australia) on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation of Australia and conducted from 31 January to 2 February 2003.
The results were as follows:
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- 3.8 million Australians have suffered from depression at some stage in their lives.
- 6.2 million (43%) Australians have either a personal or family history of depression.
- Two-thirds of all depression sufferers have been prescribed anti-depressant medication.
- One in six (17%) Australians have been prescribed medication for depression at some stage in their lives.
- More women (19%) than men (15%) have been prescribed medication for depression.
- The prescription of medication for depression is more prevalent for older Australians (50+), those not in the workforce and those on a low income (less than $30,000 per annum).
- The most common side-effects associated with depression include insomnia (44%), agitation (43%) and lack of sex drive (35%).
- Among all respondents who had suffered from depression, insomnia and lack of sex drive were the most commonly cited side-effects. However, people who have previously taken medication for depression cite lack of sex drive as the most common side-effect.
- Of those who have taken some form of prescription medication for their depression, 69% are aware of the associated side-effects.
- Among people who have been prescribed medication for depression, one in three (34%) believe lack of sex drive would affect their quality of life.
- Of those who are aware that lack of sex drive is a side-effect, 83% said this would affect their quality of life.
- Of those who are aware that insomnia is a side-effect of anti-depressant medication, 91% (9 in 10) believe it would affect their quality of life.
- Among those respondents aged 25-49 who had either suffered from depression or had a family history of depression, 34% said they would be interested in a medication that relieves their symptoms but does not reduce their sex drive.
- Similarly, three-quarters of those in a relationship would be interested in this type of medication.
- Interest in this medication is also higher among those from a high background (73%) and higher than average income (82% where the household income exceeds $60,000 per annum).
- Medication which relieves symptoms but does not reduce sex drive is of most appeal to those (80%) people with a family history of depression who have not actually suffered from the illness themselves.
- Similarly, of those who understand that lack of sex drive is a side-effect of anti-depressant medication, 77% of people said they would be interested in taking this type of medication if a doctor recommended it, of whom 54% would be very interested in taking this type of medication.