Of all the messages I have received from people since starting this blog the thing that is asked most to me is the question of whether that person has depression. This stems from recognising a lot of themselves in my posts and it is great that people feel confident enough in me to reach out and ask for my advice. It is not as easy as you think contacting a complete stranger and asking for help, you just don’t know how that person will respond. Will they ignore your message, or dismiss you out of hand? so kudos to everyone who has ever sent me a message, I hope in my own way I have helped…
So what do you do if you think you have depression?
Believe it or not the fact that you have asked yourself that question is the first and hardest part of your journey. It is all to easy to simply dismiss the issue and put it down to sadness, but when you are feeling low for days/weeks/months on end with no change then that should be the warning sign you need to consider depression as the cause.
Depression is one of those things that will not go away if you ignore it! (a bit like me!)
This is where I come in handy! if you click PHQ9_depression you will find a questionnaire that is used by your GP to assess whether you are depressed and if so to what extent. Answer the questions with complete honesty and work out your score. Depending on that score you speak to your GP as soon as possible.
When I first saw my GP about depression I was in the early 20s!
Talk to my GP? <Shudders>
Whilst I appreciate how difficult this can be for people what you need to remember is that they have heard it all before from other patients. They will not judge you any differently for opening up about this nor will they call the men in white coats to take you away!
Most GP’s will be kind and understanding about it, i say most because the wife was once told she wasn’t depressed but “suffering from the stress of life”!! but the majority will help you and determine whether you need to be prescribed anything. Some surgeries even have GP’s who specalise in Mental Health so you could ask to see them if you do not want to see your normal doctor ask at the reception where they can advise you.
Whilst you are meeting your GP remember to tell them everything, holding things back from them because you feel embarrassed or ashamed will not help you get better. Tell yourself that they have heard or seen worse and let it out! I cried like a baby when I finally spoke to my GP, it was a feeling of relief to not have to hold it in anymore and knowing that there was actually something wrong with me! I no longer had to hide my condition, I was just pleased I wasn’t going mad like I thought at one point!
Antidepressants? good or bad?
I can only speak as I find and for me antidepressants have been good! I did suffer from a side effect from the first ones I was put on but after speaking to my doctor I simply changed them onto ones that work just fine. I notice if I do not take my tablets like I am supposed to, which indicates they do the job as far as helping me goes.
Take them if prescribed and talk to your GP about any concerns you have!
Talking about depression?
Telling your friends/ partner / family is a difficult decision with all the stigma attached BUT in my experience it is better to be open about your condition especially to those affected by you on a daily basis. Not only does it help you by not having to hide it, they will be able to offer you support. Well some people will and others not so much but then the ignorance of others is not your fault (my great-uncle for example is in his 80’s and does not believe in depression!), those who matter will be there for you in the long run.
As far as I am concerned the more people we have talking about depression, especially men, the better. I would love it to become an everyday topic of conversation instead of the taboo subject it currently is.
Talking about it will actually benefit you! Believe me when I tell you that sharing your thoughts and issues will make it easier for your recovery. This blog is an example of how much talking about depression will help! It was the best decision I ever made to start sharing my battle with other because things do not sit on my mind and weight my down, I blog about it and it is off my chest and that improves my state of mind!
If you are not sure about the benefits of writing how about doing a guest post for me to see how cathartic it can be!
If all else fails you can always contact me but remember that I am a sufferer of depression and not a medical professional and I will always direct you to see a doctor! but I will always answer any questions as best I can!
So there you have it! looks nice and easy doesn’t it?
I know it isn’t easy but think how much better you could feel if you take that all important first step. After the first step the rest gets easier because you will be getting stronger for acknowledging the issue!
ASKING FOR HELP IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH NOT WEAKNESS!
and may I be the first to wish you the best of luck on your journey!