Depression and Anxiety; Prevalence, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A remarkable 2006 online study of over 2000 respondents was conducted for the British Counselling Association in regards to depression and anxiety. The following are some of their findings:

Depression and Anxiety is Common

A majority of this British sample, 66%, reported experiencing bouts of depression or anxiety. Of greater alarm, 86% said that they had had more than one episode of depression or that their depression and anxiety was recurrent or ongoing.

Reasons for Depression and Anxiety

Of people seeking a medical Doctor’s assistance, 44% reported the most common reasons for their depression and anxiety were relationship and family problems and 43% felt that their depression was due to overwork and exhaustion.  Bereavement was reported in a third of respondents as a cause, while poor health was also a large contributing factor.


The most common reported symptoms were sadness, poor sleep, and disinterest in life;  While 51% reported having panic attacks, while 43% had thought of suicide.

Treatments Offered by GPs

The most common treatment suggested by GP’s for anxiety and depression is medication which was offered to 76% of the respondents, this was closely followed by 75% offering advice.  Over half were referred to a specialist or therapist, while some sufferers sought self-help methods such as seeking information from books and the internet.  The researchers noted that only 55% of sufferers discussed their situations with their friends or family and described this number to be indicative of a reticence to have help from those closest to them.


Remarkably, this large British study found that a majority suffer from depression and anxiety. The main reasons given were relationship problems, feeling overworked and exhausted, or loss.  People felt sad, had poor sleep, were not interested in life and many described suffering from panic attacks and suicide.  As far as treatment, medication was still the most widely prescribed treatment made by GPs; However half were referred to therapists.  Although some of this population found reading materials to be helpful, many seemed reticent to seek the help of those closest to them.

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It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
— Aristotle Onassis