Wednesday, December 14 2011

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Welcome back to this series of blogs on depression (and, to a lesser extent, anxiety!). This time I’ll be talking about getting diagnosed and who to reach out to for help.

Now, as I mentioned in my last post, reaching out for help can be the most difficult part of having depression. Sure, the ‘having’ of depression is no walk in the park (unless that park is infested with every scary creature imaginable and the sun and moon don’t exist..), but reaching out to someone and just saying ‘I think something is wrong’ can be unimaginably difficult. I include myself in this. The reasons for this difficulty are many and varied – they really depend on the individual person.

But I know that, for me, I am afraid of a few things when I think about reaching out to a friend or relative -

  1. that I’m unnecessarily burdening them with my problems when they have problems of their own
  2. that they don’t actually care how I’m feeling and will just brush me off, sinking me further into my depression
  3. that they won’t know how to react and will end up hurting me without meaning to

The first two are mostly from my own deep-seated fears about having friendships and such, but I know that they are common to many people with depression. They tend to be unnecessary worries – if the person I have chosen to reach out to is TRULY my friend, then they will be happy that I chose to reach out to them rather than keeping it to myself. And again, if they are my TRUE friend then they WILL care and will do whatever they can to get me feeling happy again.

The third reason, however, is unfortunately quite common. There is a lot of stigma surrounding depression and other mental health problems. People will tell you to ‘snap out of it’ or to ‘make new friends – get a hobby!’ and other such comments. They do think they are helping, but in reality it just makes you feel more alone.

Reaching out to a friend you already have is hard enough – making new friends? Too hard right now. A lot of people think that if you just try hard enough, you can shake off this horrible feeling/state, but the truth is that depression stems from that lack of happiness chemical (serotonin) in your brain (and your gut!). It is not something that people are just ‘putting on’ to get attention. Anyway, this is why I encourage people to read up about depression if someone close to them has it (Check out the topic page right here about being worried about someone with depression) – it makes it easier to talk to them about it and give them links and connections to where they can go to get counselling or treatment of another kind.

Now, when I was first diagnosed, it was because my stress levels and anxiety were beginning to affect my health. I was getting stomach aches every single day, more often than not more than once a day. After having multiple tests, my GP sat me down and asked me how my mood had been lately. I told her it had been pretty shocking – I couldn’t find pleasure in much lately. So she put me on a preliminary (and low) dose of anti-depressant, and I notice an instant change. I was finding pleasure in the things I liked to do again – something I had missed a lot.

So, while your GP may have little experience with mental health matters when compared to, say, a psychiatrist or psychologist, they can be good to go to for a referral, or for a preliminary treatment. I also began seeing my uni counsellor, who provided me with activities to help with my anxiety, and also an activity involving writing down my negative thoughts as they occurred throughout the day. This activity was eye-opening. By the time I went back to see her two weeks later, I had filled many pages with the negative things I was saying to myself – I had programmed myself to deliver nasty quips all the time. This was not helping, obviously. She helped me to‘re-write’ my self-talk into something more positive, which helped a lot.

Back to getting diagnosed. So, going to the GP can be a good starting point. If you are attending uni or school, it may be worth checking out if there is a free counsellor or psychologist on campus that you can book in to see, just to have a chat and see where you are. If neither of these are options, there are online services you can access, phone lines you can call, and there are a few free youth services around that offer counselling by appointment or emergency (I’ll offer a list of these at the end of this post). If you are really feeling desperate, PLEASE let someone know. Most places will offer emergency appointments, where you can sit down and see the psychologist or counsellor as soon as they

The signs and info you can get from reaching out for help can help you stop feeling so lost

have a spare moment. These appointments are mostly reserved for people seriously considering suicide as their only option. So, if you are feeling this way, please GET HELP. See someone – talk to a friend that you trust. Anything to get you on that road to feeling less lost.

If you’ve read my previous post on symptoms, and you’ve thought to yourself that it sounds like you, please consider just talking to someone about it. It can be scary to open up about it, but if the person you choose is trustworthy and honest, they can make you feel much better just for sharing.

Next time I’ll be talking about treatments and how they work. Hope you’re all enjoying this blog series! Happy mental health to everyone ^_^

Options for opening up:

  • LifeLine - a 24 hour helpline and related resources
  • Reach Out – is a really informative website. here they have factsheets for different situations – including risk of suicide and attempted suicide situations
  • Mission Australia - a list of many youth services offering emergency assistance across Australia
  • Beyond Blue – beyondblue is still awesome! (from last post) here they have info on getting help when you think you might have depression

And of course right here on Tune In Not Out they have tonnes of videos and factsheets about mental health so be sure to have an explore below you leave:

Check out the rest of this blog series…

Thank you to Student Edge for supporting the development of this blog through the provision on a rather fantastic Goodie Bag.

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Image Acknowledgement

Brick Wall Image By Hambo under Creative Commons Licence

Outback road sign Image By Carlos López Molina under Creative Commons Licence


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2 Responses to “Managing Depression Pt3”

  1. Xin says:

    Might I also recommend the Kids Helpline, on 1800 55 1800? They provide help to young people between the ages of 5-25, and I believe they operate 24/7 (as well as being a free service). They’re not perfect, and with all help services you need to find a counsellor you connect with so it might take a few tries, but they’re always there to help.

  2. Adad says:

    Tension is normal and orccus when there’s something uncomfortable like an argument. Stress is usually in preparation for something like an exam, and is also normal. Anxiety is literally fear of something, an orccus in many forms anxiety severe enough to cause a panic attack is abnormal and serious, anxiety because you’re nervous about a plane ride is normal. Depression is a long-standing feeling of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, lethargy, coupled with appetite and sleep changes and sometimes thoughts of and attempts at suicide. Mania is the opposite of depression it’s a state of hyper-arousal: a person with mania (not usually called a maniac but whatever) has extreme energy, a decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, participates in reckless behaviors, talks faster than usual, and has racing thoughts. Sometimes they are grandiose ( I’m better than everyone or as extreme as I am Jesus Christ ) and have other delusions (such as paranoid) along with hallucinations. Depression can be normal in certain circumstances if only lasting for a short period of time; mania is never normal.

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