Taking Depression seriously

I am noticing more and more that residents are presenting at my weekly surgery suffering from some form of depression, from just starting on that downward spiral to one who I attended Arrowpark hospital with, who had become so desperate that a suicide attempt had been made.
Depression is a serious illness. It’s distressing and disabling and can have a huge impact on the quality of life not only for the individual sufferer, but also for those around them, and it is not just a feeling of being unhappy or fed up.
If you suffer with depression there are feelings of extreme and persistent sadness and hopelessness that can last for a long time, and can be severe enough to interfere with how you function and how you operate in your daily life.
Signs or symptoms commonly associated with depression usually fall into four categories, often becoming part of a ‘Vicious Cycle’


Lack of energy
Weight gain/loss


Everything is terrible
Its all pointless


Sleeping more/duvet days
Avoiding people and situations


Sad, upset, feeling irritable
Loss of interest

It is my experience, having suffered myself from depression, that the hardest step to take is acknowledging the fact that you have a form of depression and that you need help to manage the condition to enable you to function. This can require being able to talk to someone who understands the issues and in some cases the administering of SSRI’s (selective serotonin reputable inhibitors) usually in tablet form from your GP.

Being told to ‘pull yourself together etc’ is, in my experience, never helpful.

I believe that early intervention is imperative in treating depression, not only for the wellbeing of the individual concerned and the people around them, but also as a effective cost saving measure to the health service.

In a recent freedom of information request to the Wirral CCG (clinical commissioning group) in January 2018 the questions below were asked of ‘Inclusion Matters’ a talking therapy group who are under contract to Wirral Borough Council and the answers raise some concern.

Please provide the following information about the above service, which is the counselling service commissioned by the NHS on Wirral for patients suffering from depression and/or anxiety.

(1) How long, on average, will people will wait between opt-in and their assessment?
What is the current state of the waiting list once these patients have been assessed?

(Answer) On average people wait between 14-16 days from opt-in to having an initial assessment.

(2) What is the longest waiting time for a patient to receive treatment post-assessment? (In this calculation, please include instances where the patient has in fact not yet received treatment).

(Answer) The longest wait for treatment is 581 days. Wirral CCG and IMW meet fortnightly to monitor the waiting list. IMW are continuing to focus on those patients that have been waiting the longest to ensure that they are prioritised into treatment.

(3) What was the longest waiting time among any instances where the patient has become deceased during the waiting process?

(Answer) 252 Days (due to natural causes).

(4) What was the longest waiting time among any instances where the patient has voluntarily removed themselves from the service before receiving treatment?

(Answer) 562 Days

(5) What is the current average waiting time for a patient to receive treatment post-assessment?

(Answer) The current average wait for a 1:1 intervention is 276 days. The current average waiting time for group therapy is 28 days