Around two million Portuguese suffer from depression, according to a study carried out by Lisbon’s Santa Maria Hospital, which involved 250 doctors nationwide.
According to conclusions presented during a symposium on depression and physical pain, which took place at Santa Maria Hospital in October, the illness is associated with around 1,200 deaths per year and affects up to two million Portuguese.
The study states that depression is more likely to respond favourably to treatment if caught in its early stages.
Results concluded that depression can affect people from all walks of life with the most common signs being feelings of sadness, apathy and irritability.
In Portugal, depression particularly affects the 30-50 age group (43.5 per cent) with symptoms of sadness (76.4 per cent), a loss of interest in life (47.2 per cent) and feelings of guilt (41.6 per cent).
Other symptoms which are more difficult to define as resulting from depression can include headaches (4.19 per cent), generalised feeling of malaise (3.36 per cent), back pain (2.64 per cent) and abdominal pains (2.8 per cent).
According to health centres in the country, 22.8 per cent of all patients suffer from some form of depression with 80 per cent having a pre-existing diagnosis while 74 per cent of cases are light depression and 60 per cent had at least one relapse.
The study revealed that 69 per cent of patients were women while 73.1 per cent of patients suffered from both depression and anxiety and men were less likely to seek medical help because of the stigma surrounding the illness.