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This is long, please don't read it unless you have time to! And please try not to say that this is a brave review, as it isn't - it's just my life and where I've been. Thank you - reading this does mean a lot to me.
It's difficult knowing where to start this review. The subject itself "Member advice on depression" is not particularly helpful. I cannot give advice about depression, as I am not a medical professional. I cannot diagnose, I cannot treat, and I cannot tell you what to do (although I will give some general information about depression at the end). All I can do is share my personal experiences with you, and hope that if you are a person affected by depression that you will get the help that you need and deserve in order to find happiness. I strongly believe that happiness is waiting for each and every one of us who has not yet found it, or has temporarily misplaced it.
I have already reviewed my experiences of self-injury (www.ciao.co.uk/Member_Advice_on_Self_harm__Review_5614015), and there will be elements from there that are repeated here - for me self-injury is a symptom of my depression. While it has become an issue in its own right, I can't talk about my personal experiences without also talking about self-injury, and my experiences of alcohol abuse (which is a big part of it).
If you want to stop reading here (I am warning you, this will be VERY long! You might like to print it out and sit down with a bottle of plonk!) I would just like to share with you one important point. Depression is a very individual illness. It will affect no two people in exactly the same way. For some people depression is a short-lived illness, and for others it can be a lifelong condition. No one's experience is more or less valid than anyone else's. I do not want any sympathy or pity. I do not want people to say this is a brave review (although I'm sure that some of you might) I
do not 'suffer' with depression (although I'll admit that at hard times I can be known to wallow in it), I am merely a person affected by depression. I am part of my depression, and my depression is part of me. This is my story, and while there may be parts that some of you can relate to, this is how it is for me, and only me.
Please note, this review might be upsetting to those who are affected by depression, or know someone who is. Please do not read this if you are feeling in a vulnerable state of mind.
Edit - 2015 - I have decided to remove the bulk of my review as I feel that enough people have had a chance to read it!
*****Information about Depression*****
Right, now onto the depression information! I will keep this fairly brief - as I have said, I am not an expert. And there is a plethora of information available on the Internet (see links at the end) written by experts.
What is depression?
Depression is not just feeling sad. It is a clinical illness. It has been said to affect about 1 in 5 people in the UK at some point in their life, although statistics do vary. As some say, it is the common cold of psychiatry. However, this should not trivialise depression. Depression can be an extremely debilitating illness, and can lead to suicide. Depression can range from mild to severe. Thankfully for most people it can be treated relatively easily. I am not a medical expert, so this is just some general information - more detailed information can be found from the websites at the end of my review. For some people depression occurs as a result of a traumatic event....for some people it just happens (and there are possible biological and genetic reasons). For some people it is a short-term illness, for some people it is recurring, and for others it is a long-term condition.
What are the symptoms of depression? Depression involves general feelings of being unhappy, in addition to the following (this list is not comprehensive) : • Persistent low mood • Crying for no reason • Sleep problems - too little or too much. • Persistent tiredness and exhaustion • Loss of identity • Sexual problems, and lack of interest • Persistent anxiety • Weight loss or weight gain • Low self-esteem and self-worth • Lack of concentration • Avoiding people, and social activities • Lack of enjoyment • Forgetfulness • Anger and irritability • Feelings of blame and failure • Self-injuring - please visit www.lifesigns.org.uk for further information • Negative thoughts about the future, and feelings of hopelessness • Thoughts of suicide - please note, you MUST get help immediately if you are having suicidal thoughts - please visit www.samaritans.org.uk
Please note, only a doctor can diagnose depression. Self-diagnosis is not generally a good idea.
There are many different ways that depression can be treated (I list only some of them). Treatment will very much depend upon the individual, the severity of the depression, and what will work best for that person. Unfortunately it seems that many people are given anti-depressants as a first resort, when it shouldn't be, especially not in mild depression. If you think that you might be mildly depressed, it is worth trying some of the ideas below, before seeking medical help. For moderate to severe depression (particularly if it is long-lasting) I would recommend seeking medical help.
Mild depression: • Exercise • Herbal remedies e.g. St John's Wort - please do not start taking this without first consulting your GP • Monitoring diet • Talk to people about how you're feeling • Self-help programmes Moderate to severe depression (please note, depression can't easily be split into Mild, Moderate and Severe, this is just a general guide. The above treatments will also be of benefit to those with moderate to severe depression): • Counselling or psychotherapy • Anti-depressant medication - there are many different types - information can be found from - www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/mentalhealthproblems/depression/a ntidepressants.aspx Anti-depressants are not magic happy pills. They will not do anything for someone who is not depressed. They have side effects, and many people have to try different anti-depressants (or combinations of medication) before they find what works for them. • Hospitalisation • ECT in extreme cases when other treatments have failed.
If you think that you need help for the way that you are feeling, I would suggest that you talk to your GP. There is help available, and you are not alone. Please don't suffer, and please accept any help you are offered. You deserve happiness - we ALL do :o)
Following comments on this review on Ciao, I feel that I need to add a bit about seeking help:
It is a big step speaking to your GP (unless like me you don't have a choice in the matter!), and it is a decision which you might want to think carefully about, and you might want to discuss how you are feeling with family and friends first. There are issues surrounding having mental health issues recorded on medical records, and the stigma surrounding mental health problems. However, I hope that by people being open about their experiences, in time the stigma will be reduced. For me personally, accepting that depression is an illness has made it far easier to deal with. I realise that I do not need to feel guilty about it.
I am not saying that everyone who is feeling a bit low should go straight to their GP. Being the daughter of a GP I appreciate possibly more than most that the time of doctors is valuable! However, if your feelings of depression are significantly interfering with your life, work, relationships (etc) then all I am saying is that there is help available, and no one needs to 'suffer' with depression. As I said at the beginning of the review, I do not 'suffer', I am merely a person who is affected by depression. More information can be found at: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/mentalhealthproblems/depression/d epression.aspx