Friday, 27 May 2016

Depression & Anxiety

Depression is a serious illness caused by changes in the brain chemistry.
It is a very severe condition with feelings of misery, despair, hopelessness and more.
There are many types of depression such as; persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, psychotic depression, substance induced mood disorder, major depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, situational depression, atypical depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder...

Anxiety is an intense and overwhelming feeling that causes fear, worry and apprehension.
Anxiety is mostly triggered by stress however there are many other triggers such as; brain chemistry, substance abuse, medical conditions...
There are many types of anxiety such as; generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, separation anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, phobias...

I have recently joined a group for people with depression and anxiety (the link is at the bottom of this blog) via the social media site Facebook.
I decided to contact the page admin to ask for their help in conducting interviews with group members.
I have interviewed several people about being diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
I have answered the questions too.
I understand that the symptoms I have another person with the same condition may have different symptoms.
I also understand that the medication I am prescribed maybe different to that of another person.
Therefore by asking everyone the same questions I (we) can see the results, we can see how each person is different despite being diagnosed with the same conditions.

Thank you to everyone who kindly agreed to answer my questions.



What is your name and age?
Sam aka My Sunshine Sparkles
Age 35

When were you diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
I was officially and medically diagnosed in 2009 after the death of my 18 year old brother but I do believe I have had depression and anxiety since I was 10 years old.

How was a diagnosis made?
The first doctor I went to basically laughed it off, however I changed doctors and my new one asked basic questions about my health, lifestyle, sleep etc.
He also did a full medical examination and took bloods too.

Was there a cause for your illness?
I do believe my depression and anxiety were triggered by the sudden loss of my brother however there were issues from my childhood which I believe were the root cause.

How was the depression/anxiety treated?
My depression was/is treated with antidepressants called Lexapro and I take one daily at a dose of 75mg.
My anxiety was/is treated with medication called Xanax at a dose of 25mg but I only take one when needed.

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
My mother (65) has depression.
My daughter (16) has depression.

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
I once tried counseling but I didn't feel ready at the time.

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
Depression - Some days I am really happy and other days I am really low.
I've had suicidal thoughts and I've self harmed but I'm still here, strong and fighting to survive.
On good days I'm happy and comfortable with my surroundings.
On bad days I feel lifeless, tired, upset, angry and so on.
Anxiety - I've had several panic attacks, two were so bad my doctor put me on the breathing mask.

What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Always seek professional advice first.
Its OK to cry and its OK to feel down but always remember "after the storm comes the sun" and in time you'll smile again.
I find it helps me personally to talk to loved ones but also keep a written diary/journal and write everything down.


What is your name and age?
Claire Hampson, 36 years old

When were you diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
3 and a half years ago

How was a diagnosis made?
By my doctor

Was there a cause for your illness?
Stress of family issues, being bullied at work and being bullied by husband and his family

How was the depression/anxiety treated?
I use to take medication but now I just have St John's Wort and medication didn't agree with me

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
My mum and auntie

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
Had counselling but it didn't help

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
I don't socialise and find it hard to go out on my own.
I struggle at work because it's a very high pressured job and have taken time off in the past

What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Try to think positive as it can change your mind set.
Self help is good


What is your name and age?
Alan, 52

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
18 months ago

How was the diagnosis made?
Mental Health Team/GP (doctor)

Was there a cause for your illness?
Childhood, life situations

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
Medications, talking therapy, CBT

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
Withdrawing into myself, Panic/anxiety attacks, low self esteem, lack of confidance

What advice would you give someone who was recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Seek help as soon as you can, Mental Health is nothing to be ashamed of


What is your name and age?
Age 24

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
Depression 2012
Partum Depression and Anxiety 2015

How was your diagnosis made?
I knew something was wrong with me.
I wasn't the same person as before.
I cried all the time.
Then with the post partum depression I was lashing out at my fiance and young baby.
I couldn't stand her crying.
I also had extreme fears about things. Like her being kidnapped from our bed while she was sleeping right next to me.

Was there a cause for your illness?
The depression I think was caused by a major life change and the same thing with the post partum depression but hormones played a big part after giving birth.

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
I was put on medication both times.

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
My mother has depression and although not formally diagnosed I believe my father has it as well.

Apart from medications have you tried any alternative therapies?
I am about to begin talk therapy for my depression and anxiety.
Medication alone isn't helping as well as it should.

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
Depression has a huge impact on my life. I feel as though my relationship with my daughter and fiance both suffer because I often don't want to do anything.

What advice would you give someone recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
My advice would be to seek help.
I was reluctant and still am.
I want to be independent but I also don't want to acknowledge that it had such a huge impact on my life.
That's changing though.
Always let people know how you feel.
You are not a failure.
If something doesn't work speak up.
If you need a different med that is ok.
If you need a therapist that's ok.
If you need to switch therapist that's ok. You are not a failure.
Depression is not you.
It's a disease that you have.


What is your name and age?
Nicola & 18

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
Just after my 15th birthday

How was the diagnosis made?

Was there a cause for your illness?
Controlling ex that locked me in his house for 12 months

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
Propranolol for 11 months but didn't work for me so haven't taken nothing in almost 3 years

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
Only I have it

Apart from medications have you tried any alternative therapies?
I just get on with it day by day (baby steps haven't tried nothing else)

How has this condition(s) affected your daily life?
I don't leave my house alone other than that I've overcome the rest of the symptoms

What advice would you give someone who was recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
I'd tell them it's not a walk in the park and that with baby steps they'll get further and achieve there goals.


What is your name and age?
My name is Peter John Whyman
I am 43 years old.

When were you diagnosed with depression and anxiety?
I would say I was diagnosed with "generalised anxiety" and "panic disorder" in November of 2015

How was the diagnosis made?
The diagnosis was made by a combination of my doctor and a councillor I was seeing at the time.

Was there a cause for your illness?
At the time I couldn't find the main cause for my condition.

How was your depression/anxiety treated?
I went through CBT which helped a little bit, it gave me the tools to help.
I just find it hard sometimes to get it in my head and get the anxious feeling out.
I took 10mg of citalopram which  recently has been upped to 20mg.

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?
No members of my family are being treated for any mental illness conditions.

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
I have tried hypnotherapy CBT and self help therapies.
I am currently trying hypnosis again through relaxation recordings via Mark Bowden Hypnotherapy which I find very calming.

How has this condition(s) affected your daily life?
The condition affects my daily life by way of too many anxious feelings that tells my head I can't do this and I can't do that. It makes me stay in too much and not drive too far out of my comfort zone.
It makes me feel like I've let everyone down, especially my partner and my 11 year old son, by not taking them out much.
I think my son has missed out on so much but he tells me he loves me regardless, kids do that no matter what, they will always love you.
My partner tries to understand, she does her best but sometimes I know she doesn't understand how I feel but she helps me so much it's unreal.
I feel I don't deserve the love she gives me.
I have since been trying to get my head around things a bit more by reading books on the subject and have found a couple which are really great books; Anxiety Rebalance by Carl Vernon and a book on Driving Fear by Joanne Mallon which I am still reading.
I am also a member of a great facebook group anxiety and depression - there's more to me than what you see.
I am an admin for the group also and I would personally like to thank Clare Lou Hampson for starting it up, we had a good chat about when I accidentally posted something on a comment she made on another page.

What advice would you give someone recently diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
I would say to people don't give up hope. Stop saying you suffer and start saying you live with anxiety because at the end of the day we need anxiety in our lives to survive and we do have to live with it as part of our lives we just need to find the strength to control it in our minds.
It is hard but if you stick at it you can do it and be able to control your anxiety to help you to live a happy fulfilling life.
Stop saying no and start saying yes to things.
The more times you beat the anxiety the more you will be able to control it
I am getting better each time at being in certain places and environments that I would normally shy away from.
I stick in there and stay with it and eventually the anxious feeling subside
I have good and bad days but God I'm trying and want to beat it.
There isn't a cure for it, just a change in mindset.
I was looking for a cure for years, never been able to find one, most probably because there isn't one.
I would also say; talk to people tell them how you feel and what you have to go through each day.
It will help you and it will help people to understand "our" conditions a bit more and they may try and help you.
Tell them what you would like them to say to you because what we don't want to hear calm down you'll get over it and things like that.
We don't want to be patronised, we want to be treated like everyone else in the world.
We don't want sympathy we just want understanding.
I have lived with anxiety for over 20 years.
I lost my brother to cancer I had to watch his deterioration from being about 16 Stone to a skeletal skin and bone while the cancer slowly starved him over 18 months.
I watched my father die of lung disease over a long period of time, after being a strong healthy mineworker.
I lost a couple of close uncles at that time also, which didn't help.
I think now my anxiety probably started on one particular day; my brother was an entertainer and this particular day he wanted me to go and help him out on the road which I didn't want to but he and my parents kept telling me to go.
I had feelings of shall I go but I don't want to but if I don't go I'll let them down.
I started to go but then I had a panic attack, some thing I never want to go through again, it was a feeling I never ever want, it was horrible.
I thought I was dying, my breathing changed, my hands and face tingled like mad, all I could see was whiteness in front of me, my hands had seized up into a fist which no one could prise apart not even my dad who had big strong hands. When I came around, the doctor was there he said I was panicking.
When asked why, he said because he couldn't get his breath, but why couldn't I get my breath, he said because he was panicking.
A vicious circle continued from that episode.
I had numerous tests and saw numerous doctors to be then told I have asthma which brings us up to today.
I feel like when I am calm and not anxious my asthma is lovely and when I'm anxious my asthma is usually dreadful so I'm in a circle there aswell.
In a whole I'm a lot better than I was this time last year.
I'm finally starting to live a little bit more with each passing day.
Here's to the future may it bring us all happiness that we deserve.
We need to raise more awareness of mental health conditions.
Tell people to smile more, it doesn't cost a penny and if you smile at people then you are giving out positiveness which will in turn give you positive feelings back.


What is your name and age?
Camille Urban, 33 years

When were you diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Initially I was diagnosed with depression when I was about 19 and was put onto anti-depressants, spent the next 14 years on and off meds.
In January this year I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and Anorexia Nervosa and have struggled with self-harming.

How was a diagnosis made?
I was placed onto anti-depressants by my GP in December 2015 after sitting sobbing in his office for no reason, but my sister who also has depression suggested I see her psychiatrist.
I was sceptical as I had been through the psychiatrist-meds circus many times before but eventually made an appointment.
When I went to see the psychiatrist she immediately booked me into a clinic and told me that if I didn’t get help and onto the proper meds it would most likely develop into psychosis.

Was there a cause for your illness?
It is a genetic chemical imbalance that runs in my family but has been worsened by various traumatic events in my life. The most obvious I can think of is that my mother died of a heart attack in front of me when I was eleven, I did a lot of drugs in my teens and early 20’s, was in an abusive relationship with an addict for three years and shortly after I managed to leave him, my father died of a heart attack, again, in front of me.

How was the depression/anxiety treated?
I received counselling while in the clinic in the forms of one-on-one sessions with my psychologist and psychiatrist, group therapy and occupational therapy.
The psychiatrist has got me on various meds to keep me stable. (Venlor, Trazadone and Rivatrol)

Do other members of your family have depression/anxiety?

Apart from medication have you tried any alternative therapies?
I am a Christian now so I pray, spend time reading my bible, go to church, seek God for my strength and peace and I feel that has helped me a lot.

How has the condition(s) affected your daily life?
All my diagnoses are a daily battle but if I had to look at each individually I would say;

My depression is being managed but I have good days and bad day like any other person but when you suffer from depression, your bad days are that much worse.
Anyone who suffers from depression knows that it is a deep black pit that you actually cannot see the way out of, when people try to give helpful advice like “exercise and sit in the sun” it makes me want to laugh because if only that fixed the problem.
But it doesn’t, just getting out of bed, showering and getting dressed feels like a 40km marathon.
I remember mornings when I would just sit on the side of my bed and sob because the thought of getting dressed and going to work felt like more than I could handle.
But I somehow always managed to get to work and act like I was ok. 
I recently relapsed badly with my depression because of outside stressors and toxic people in my life and picking yourself up and carrying on are hard but it’s worth it.
You have to hold onto that hope that it won’t always be like this, even if you can’t see a way out, you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, it must get better because I have come to realise after my stay in the clinic in January and all the work I did, taking my own life is not worth it.
Plus with my faith, I can hold onto the knowledge that Jesus is sitting there in that deep dark pit with me and when the time is right, won’t help me out of it, He will carry me out because he loves me and died for me and if my life can be a testimony to his love and His grace, I would gladly suffer for His glory.

I believe I have suffered with anxiety since I was a child, either that or I was/am on the lower end of the autistic scale because small things like my socks pinching me in my school shoes would get me so upset I would completely freak out.
To this day I have to constantly analyse my thoughts and consciously decide if it’s a real threat or if it’s just my anxiety, but I don’t always get it right.
Especially in highly stressful situations, I suffer from bad anxiety attacks and have had to pull off the road while driving to or from work many times because I felt like I was having a heart attack, I can’t breathe, I shake uncontrollably, get incredibly dizzy, my arms go lame, my hands go cold and numb, my mind races and I can’t control my thoughts, they run wild like a pack of wolves chasing its prey.
Anxiety is a hard thing to explain to someone who has never experienced it, it’s like this cold icy hand grips your heart and mind and takes over completely, logic and rational thought go straight out the window and all you can feel is this wave of panic washing over your body.
Many a time I have had one of my colleagues (who luckily is a good friend and understands) come and talk me  down from an anxiety attack while I have been sat at my desk, or outside the office trying to appear composed and professional but almost hyperventilating and crying my eyes out.

Eating disorder:
Shew, where to begin, I can’t actually tell you when my eating disorder started.
I was always a skinny active kid, but when I hit puberty, I just ballooned, only finding out when I was 19 that it was due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and my hormones were just a mess and no matter what I did, I kept picking up weight.
So I remember hating my body from a young age, looking in the mirror and hating myself, lying in the bath looking at the rolls on my stomach and wishing them gone, wishing I was thin and desperately crying out for help but could not voice it, which is when the self-harming started.
When I was a teenager I got involved in drugs and due to doing a lot of these drugs (mostly LSD) I lost a lot of weight and finally felt I was worth something.
My self-esteem was so low after being over-weight, losing my mother at a young age and having to figure out how to run a house, care for my older sister who after my mother’s death lost herself in various addictions and my father who was incredible but for a long time, completely lost without my mother.
Being thin for me meant being worth something, boys paid attention to me, even though I only started dating when I was 18 as I was too involved with drugs to really care about boys for many years. But I liked their attention.
My eating disorder has come and gone over the years, certain things have made it worse, for example one guy I dated in my early twenties used to force me to go to gym and weigh myself and told me if I picked up even 500g he would break up with me.
The last serious relationship I was in before my current boyfriend (who is amazing and loving and supportive) was the abusive one I referred to earlier.
He also got me back onto drugs after being clean for maybe five years.
We did a lot of cocaine and again due to the drugs I lost weight which reaffirmed my idea that weight equals importance as he used to abuse me emotionally and mentally as well as physically.
I still struggle to this day and even though I do eat now days, I can’t help but feel guilty when I do, even though I don’t show it.
I have done it all, starved myself, purged after eating what a normal person would consider a small meal, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day, been hospitalised more than once because of this, although I never told the doctors so they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
I believe the thyroid condition I suffer from (Hashimotos disease) is because of my eating disorder and all the strain I have put my body through over the years. I’m learning again now that what I look like doesn’t matter, but it’s a daily battle.

As I mentioned earlier, this started at a young age, it started with physically hurting myself, hitting my head against the wall repeatedly, punching myself, scratching myself, doing anything to feel physical pain to numb the pain I felt inside.
After my mother’s death it got worse, the pain was like a cancer that grew and grew and just consumed me, I started cutting myself when I was 13 or 14 and have done so repeatedly over the years, as well as physically hurting myself (hitting myself, banging my head against the wall, scratching myself until I bruise). It’s hard to explain but when people say “it’s just for attention” most of the time (because sometimes it is) they couldn’t be more wrong.
The harm you do to yourself from real pain isn’t going to be easily seen; you cut and hurt yourself in places where it is easy to hide.
You don’t show the world the physical scars because those scars represent times when physical pain is less sore than the pain you feel inside.
It’s a release in a way.
You look down at the blood and the cuts and you don’t actually see it, all you see is a way to stop the hurt in your heart, in your mind, in your soul.
I recently relapsed and cut myself again, I know now it’s when I feel overwhelmed and worthless and can’t cope with the world or the expectations people have of me because despite all my issues I have become a master of disguise.
I don’t show my emotions easily to the point that I found out just 3 days ago that I have a mass (teritoma) in my right ovary that has been causing me so much pain that I have been physically ill and throwing up from the pain, but not even my  housemate knew the extent of this pain. I have learnt over the years to hide it so well.

What advice would you give someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression/anxiety?
Don’t try to run from the pain, as hard and as terrifying as it is, face your fears, look back and see your life for what it was but understand that it does not define you.
All you have is this moment in time, the people who love you and the connection you have with God.
See your depression/anxiety/mental illness for what it is, but know that you CAN overcome it, it takes true courage to admit your weaknesses and ask for help but it is the best thing you can ever do. We were not created to be alone, to walk this path alone, fine someone who can walk alongside you and help you up when you fall, but remember, it’s a give and take, and be there for them when they stumble, show love regardless and forgive.
Forgiveness is key, holding on to hurt is like stabbing yourself with a knife and expecting the other person to feel pain.


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