Mind Yourself - depression and stress

Mind Yourself - coping with stress and depression

Depression and stress are two big factors in the lives of Irish people today. There are many myths about both which need to be dispelled. Studies suggest that there is a superficial awareness of the circumstances that can contribute to the onset of depression and doctors also report some frustration in depression management. At times, when people begin to feel better after taking antidepressants, they stop taking the medication.

A recent public meeting in Dublin on depression, stress and suicide, chaired by this author, attracted a massive gathering – an indication of the level of public desire for better information. The meeting heard that around 300,000 people are affected by depression in Ireland at any one time. Unfortunately, less than one in four people get adequate help. Chemical changes take place in the brain which cause depression – key molecules called neurotransmitters do not work correctly or they are present in the wrong amounts. It is not something to feel guilty or embarrassed about.

No trigger

According to Prof Patricia Casey, consultant psychiatrist, Mater Hospital in Dublin, sometimes there is no trigger for depression, something which can add to the guilt people affected feel because they believe they should have a reason for the illness.

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“Around 50% of people do not have a trigger or risk factors for depressive illness”, she said. “The outcome for those who get treatment is very good. It is also important to be aware too that antidepressants are not addictive”. The newer antidepressants also begin working much faster, within days, compared with older treatments. These medicines also help ‘re-wire’ the brain so that thinking processes work better.

Dr Casey said that there are many misconceptions surrounding mental health and barriers need to be broken to encourage more people to seek treatment.

Depression often requires medical and psychological treatment. Unlike feeling ‘a bit down’, clinical depression can be very disabling, affecting the simplest of everyday activities such as getting up in the morning, shopping or cooking meals. Depression is an illness that lasts for a period of time and is not about advising someone affected to pull themselves together.

Cognitive therapy

The treatment may involve cognitive therapy. This is a form of psychotherapy aimed at helping people see the world differently. A depressed patent may have come to see him or herself as powerless to change. The therapy helps people spot false thinking and find ways to cope better.

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Recent surveys show that three quarters of Irish people believe that life in Ireland has become more stressful in the last five years. Most people accept stress as a normal part of living and are able to cope with it in various ways. However, for around 300,000 people – workplace stress affects family life and 13% of the population suffer from anxiety. When you are stressed, you find yourself becoming irritable and tired.

Some coping mechanisms can be very harmful, including increased smoking, and increased alcohol intake. The problem with excessive alcohol use is that over time it has a physical devastating effect on the brain– something which can easily be shown using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of the brain.

Just one in ten people have sought professional help for stress related ailments, most of these going to a GP.

According to Prof Casey, depression occurs mainly in young women and it is important to be aware that it is not associated with the menopause. Depression can occur in children as young as five years. Some people have a chemical predisposition to depression.

Moving house

In relation to stress, the meeting heard that the top three causes at home are financial and health concerns, and transport problems in urban areas. At work, the top three causes are too heavy a workload, being responsible for others at work and the physical workplace environment.

“Moving house is the second most stressful event – the first is going to prison”, Prof Casey said.

People have different coping systems. It also depends on how you view pressures – as problems or as challenges. People who have good social supports and strong religious beliefs seem to cope better.

For people suffering from depression, having a shoulder to cry on can be helpful, but only up to a point, Prof Casey explained. She said that this might offer short-term assistance as people may feel positive after talking about their problems. However, it is not a long-term solution and neither is going on a holiday.


The subject of suicide is a very distressing one, especially for those affected by it. Worldwide, around one million people take their own lives each year. It is now the principle cause of death in young people, exceeding accidents and cancer. Over 400 people commit suicide in Ireland each year.

According to Dr John Connolly, consultant psychiatrist, St Mary’s Hospital, Mayo there is truly no health without mental health. For those who contemplate suicide, most want to end pain rather than end their lives, he said. But he also warned that even ‘minor’ suicide attempts must be taken seriously.

The danger signs are: severe depression; people talking about suicide; a preoccupation with death; hopelessness; self-destructive behaviour and even a sudden calmness or happiness after a period of deep depression. This may reflect the fact that a person has decided to end their life, has put their affairs in order and is now calm with the decision.

Dr Connolly said that if the level of alcohol consumption could be cut, suicide levels would also fall. In countries where there has been a major decrease in alcohol consumption, so too has the suicide rate fallen, especially youth suicide.

No single cause

It is important to remember that there is no clear single cause for suicide. It is a mix of factors. For young people, youth hopelessness is a factor and ‘copycat’ cases account for up to 10% of all suicides. Bullying is also a factor as well as illness and poor parenting. However, Dr Connolly said that a link with exams and stress has not been shown. Suicide is seen mostly in males, in young people (15-24 years) and also in older people who perhaps live alone and feel little left in life to live for.

Sadly, suicide is notoriously difficult to predict – doctors are likely to be wrong many more times than they are right. But certainly recognising and dealing with depression earlier and moderation in alcohol consumption are two of the big challenges ahead.

The seminar held in Dublin was hosted by Lundbeck Ireland. The AWARE organisation helps people with depression and their families. You can contact them at: Dublin 6617208. If you are suffering from stress or depression, please talk to your GP.

* Fergal Bowers is the editor of irishhealth.com


Anonymous - 05/11/2003 09:52

This is an excellent article - well done and many thanks for the information

Anonymous - 05/11/2003 11:02

Am suffering from stress related depression at the moment and have only started medication two days ago having attended my GP. the point about being guilty because you have no reason to feel depressed is a very good one - I have spent the last 6 months wondering why I should be depressed and hoping I would feel better but unfortuntely it just got worse. It was reassuring to read todays article

Anonymous - 05/11/2003 11:50

I'm glad to see that cognitive therapy features in the treatment of depression and that doctors are not just relying on prescription medicines for a so-called 'quick fix'. Cognitive therapy can highlight the negative thoughts that over a long period of time can lead to a depressive state. Having benefited personally from such therapy,I feel it should feature either with or without medication.

Anonymous - 05/11/2003 13:31

Yes, I suffer from stress in my workplace quite a lot and find getting things done in time really stresses me out. This article has helped. Thanks

Anonymous - 05/11/2003 22:39

Is there any more modern day MAOI equivalent to Nardil that does not have the stringent dietary restrictions that Nardil has?

Anonymous - 06/11/2003 09:21

Is it common for depression to be linked to the menstrual cycle? My partner seems to be on a severe emotional rollercoaster with her moods peaking and dipping in a cyclical fashion. The highs and lows can be very pronounced. Is there a treatment? See has been to the GP who in turn sent her to a consultant but the consultant declared there was nothing wrong. I know that he got it wrong

richardg - 06/11/2003 16:29

It is such a relief to see this very informative article on mental health. Having personally experienced depression and anxiety myself I know what it is like to go for counselling and take antidepressants. Today, I feel much better about myself, I can easy say that my experience with depression has enhanced my life... Believe me. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Don't for one minute feel embarrassed about seeing your doctor.. It could save your life

paul(PAULMCCARTHY) - 06/11/2003 18:44

excellent article. is there anything around (like support groups) in the south of the country for people who experience excessive anxiety?

Anonymous - 08/11/2003 05:38

Article interesting and enlightening. I suffer from depression and am convinced that the negative attitude of society gives rise to a vicious circle. If one had, for example, an ulcer or severe arthritis etc. the reaction mainly would be sympathy, understanding an occasional kind enquiry as to one's state of health etc. Depression is different. It is my experience that, as soon as an acquaintance, either long-standing or casual, hears that one is suffering from depression, the reaction is not to discuss it, begin to treat one as if one was now brainless -intelligence and reliability suddenly departed - and/or viewed with suspicion - one might do anything - might be Jack the Ripper!!! It is important to get out the message that being depressed does not mean that one is insane - a raving lunatic - not to be relied on and most definitely not to be considered for employment or as a spouse/partner. The loneliness of being suddenly avoided, viewed with suspicion or, alternatively, advised to the effect that one could just decide to be well again and hey presto - depression would disappear. I have been told that 'If you had as much upsets as I had, I don't know what you'd do'. When one is already in the depths of depression and trying just co cope, comments like that can be very devastating making one feel inadequate and unfathomable. Rose

Anonymous - 08/11/2003 16:17

I was treated for PND 4 years ago, in 2001 i got pregnant and stoppped Prozac, following birth I was seen by a psychiatrist who defined my PND in 1999 as not depression but a COPING problem, does he mean my mind/body's way of not coping with Stress and the similarity in both symptoms and treatment. now I have a peptic ulcer because I just kept pushing myself- its only a phase, I'm not Depressed or Stressed,I just have to learn a way to COPE better . Oeople expecting me to battle on and COPE and get on with all

Anonymous - 09/11/2003 12:35

why is mental health still such a stigmatic subject, when it seems to affect so many people. being a 'recovered depressive' i find that people are either afraid to talk about depression to me or just think 'its all in my mind!!' i think the government need to have an awareness campaign to show there is help and its not as it used to be.

Anonymous - 10/11/2003 15:02

To: - Anonymous Posted: 06/11/2003 09:21, yes it is very common for depression to be linked to the menstrual cycle - a severe form of PMS. This may be due to a hormonal imbalance. Your partner should check out goign on the pill and / or hormone supplements to see if this helps

jtrred - 17/11/2003 09:24

I think a lot of the 'stigma' surrounding mental health is as a result of lack of knowledge about various mental illnesses. If you are suffering from depression or think you might be, get help. I did and life is so much better. I was concerned about telling my family and friends and how they would react, so I told them quietly and individually and explained that I am not 'bonkers'. I have a treatable illness like any other treatable illness. Most were surprised, but all were supportive. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a lot of knowledge is enlightening.

Anonymous - 30/11/2003 13:43

We are moving house and my wife seems sad, stressed and depressed.She cries and has sleeping problems. She is taking Lexotan (Bromazepam) 1.5 mg twice daily. Any suggestion would be gratefully appreciated

Anonymous - 07/12/2003 03:17

How can I get a family member to recognise they have stress/depresiion? I spoke to GP who said that until the person themselves was willing to admit they had a problem there was nothing that a GP could do. Meanwhile the rest of the family has to live with the person who has anixity attacks, memory lapses, stopped work, and is generally a stress to be in the house with. Is there a support group for families of people with depression - like the ones for families living with an alcoholic?

Anonymous - 09/12/2003 17:18

"The problem with excessive alcohol use is that over time it has a physical devastating effect on the brain" What does this mean? Can it affect people who are young (20) I have found recently that I am feeling very down. I thought it was because I have just entered my final year in university and have found the work load extreme compared to previous years. But also, I have cut back on my alcohol intake. I was going out drinking about 5 nights a week and have cut it down to 1. I have found that my concentration is not what it has been before. Am I just imagining things?

Anonymous - 11/12/2003 14:06

If you are suffering from any mental illness, it is worth checking your diet to see that it contains a good supply of the B group vitmins(whole grains, fruit and veg, as B vits are essential for the functioning of the brain.Taking a good B vit supplement can help also.

Anonymous - 28/01/2004 09:32

Re difficulty with family member posted 7/12/03 visit Aware web site www.aware.ie and see if there is s support group near you for relatives and carers there is one in St.Patrick's Hospital dublin 8 Wednesday evenings at 7.15 these groups will help you cope. Information is power. Best of luck.

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 10:26

I have suffered from stree/depression over the last number od years. After a very bad panic attack I sought help and went on a six month course. At a later stage I suffered an even more severe panic attack which led to a year on anti-depressants and weekly visits to a psychotherapist. The sessions and medication finished about ten months ago but over the last month or so I feel the symptoms returning but with a fixation on death in the form of a fear of having a heart attack. Every time a feel any tension in my chest I start to feel a slight panic that I am going to have a heart attack and die. The reality is my heart is fine but I still get this irrational fear when the tension appears which is becoming more regular. Should I consider going back on my medication?

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 13:21

after over 12 months of severe stress at work I finally went to see my gp - started taking antidpressants - tried several kinds but didn't notice any difference. After a failed suicide attempt, I went on sick leave, and am now undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, but have stopped taking medication. The problem is worse because my family are not aware of the situation, and so have to pretend everything is ok. The point about guilt is a good one - I know plenty of people who have had genuine problems witth bereavement or illness yet they are able to cope, whereas most of the time I feel like a fraud because in my opiion there shouldn't be anything wrong with me. I read somewhere that a non-depressed person taking antidepressants will not notice any effect from them, so this also makes me feel as though I'm making the whole up.

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 13:55

The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Tel 01-2300061 will give you the names of IACP Counsellors in your area. Talk to someone even though its hard. It really helps.

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 13:58

For some time now I have had a fear of driving especially in motorways. It has escalated recently as I have had to do a lot of long distance driving. It was suggested to me that hypnosis is best for this type of fear or panic attack which I would call it. I have had one session but it does not appear to have helped me greatly. Any other sufferers/suggestions !!!!

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 14:06

This has been a very helpful article thank your

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 14:37

I suffer from depression and it seems it goes back to when I was quite young..when my parents thought at the time i suffered from mood swings...but in the past 2 years I've gotten progressively worse, to a stage where I attempted suicide twice (not counting once before when I was 18). I went to counselling since then, was on antidepressants for nearly a year and things started to improve. Now I am feeling much better, have come off the antidepressants (hated being on them in the first place) and dealing with things a bit better than I used to. I get my bad days, probably always will, but at least I've got through the worst.

Anonymous - 11/02/2004 14:40

I'm unsure if I am feeling depressed or sorry for myself. I have developed mood swings and bouts of anxiety and panic attacks. I'm not sure if I am thinking about it too much and making myself worse. I do have feelings of guilt and lonliness. I have been seeing a therapist for nearly a year now and sometimes can get on top of my feelings but sometimes it gets the better of me. I dont know if I am bad enough for medication. I did go to see my gp but she wasnt very helpful saying that it could be the pill. Maybe I need to go to see another one. Dont want it to destroy my relationship or my life in general.

Anonymous - 17/02/2004 08:45

Excellent article thank you very much.

Anonymous - 25/02/2004 12:51

Adult Children of Depressed Parents I am woman in my mid twenties who has only realised within the last couple of years that my mother is suffering from bi-polar disorder (manic depression), and has been, as far as I can tell, for most of her life. The more I think about it the more I realise how intimately her condition is intertwined with my own experience of depression - also pretty much a life-long thing. I'm wondering if anyone knows of any books/organisations/support groups specifically dedicated to the adult children of depressed parents? I would love to know more about how to stop my mother's depression making me depressed, and how best I can help her.

Anonymous - 04/04/2004 13:01

I suffer terribly from negative thoughts. I now know it to be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have read a bit about it. None of my family know or I have not seen a Doctor about it. These terrible thoughts which I dont want come into my head. Its terrible. It is happening with years but has got worse. My head at the moment is like a band around it at times. Just cant seem to get over it. To meet me you would think I had not a care in the world. The funny thing is I would not worry about things other people would worry about but its just these negative terrible things.I would be so grateful for any help please.

Anonymous - 04/04/2004 13:11

I sent in a comment while ago about suffering from OCD. Maybe I should have sent that to Ask the Doctor section.

Anonymous - 15/05/2004 21:54

I suffer from stress, depression and anxiety, there is too little being done to help people like me. My drinking has soared since this illness started 2 years despite medication. I believe the path that our society is following is unnatural and inhuman.

stevenson(stefanowitch) - 20/05/2004 06:31

I was diagonosed with BiPolar four years ago. if any of your readers wouldlike to more about what I am doing to overcome my problems they can look at our new web site dedicated to mental illhealth www.pilgrimhorse.info I enjoy your news letters. I will be comming home soon for a trek around Ireland with my horse!

Anonymous - 20/05/2004 09:42

I am sorry you feel that very little is being done. It may seem that way but there are a lot of good people out there ready to help people in your situation. Sometimes it is hard to find them as Doctors are not always supportive and do not refer people to Counsellors as they see them as outside the medical profession. Ring your community information centre for names of people who can help or the IACP at 01-2300061. A good book is Depression, the commonsense approach, by Tony Bates. This can be got in most bookshops or is easily ordered. There are some good ideas for challenging negative thoughts in it, which might also help the person with OCD. It is a very easy to read book. Don't give up looking for help because it is out there. You may have to go to a couple of people before you find the right one. It is worth the effort because we only have one go at this life.

Anonymous - 31/05/2004 23:55

Depression is just as hard to live with as alcoholism and I see a huge link with the two illnesses. My mother took to her bed all the time with mystery illnesses when I was a child and looking back she was suffering from depression and was only really able to function with a few drinks on board! My husband shows exactly the same traits now and I wonder why I was attracted to another person with the same problems!Both of them refuse to acknowledge they have a problem unfortunately so I watch two people I love suffer highs and lows all the time.

Anonymous - 01/06/2004 18:47

I had a hysterectomy in 1992 and about 12 months after i started to expiereance panic attacks, over the last twelve years i have gone from a outgoing and a very capable person to a near recluse... i can never go out on my own i have to rely on other people my doctor suggest'ed that i take Antidepressants and have councling i tried both the councling was ok while i was having it but the medication i was unable to take, after just four days i was feeling really ill couldnt eat sleep or get out of bed as the side effects of the medication was unberable. what i would like to know did any one else out there experience similar side effects with antidepressants.

Anonymous - 04/06/2004 19:07

I think my GP might be depressed- he suffers from mood swings.

Anonymous - 16/06/2004 18:41

this article is very informative and true.depression and stress are a major problem in the modern world yet there is a still a stigma attached to the condition

Anonymous - 28/06/2004 13:53

Hi I was feeling down and very uninterested in my work last few months.(lots of stress). went to Doc who told me I had mild early stages of depression. I had been drinking alot of booze too when I was feeling down. Anway doc gave me 10mg lexapro 2 weeks ago and I have not drank for 2 weeks. feel a bit better, though I think it takes up to 3 weeks for the pills to work??? I still feel a bit anxious though. anyone similar?

Anonymous - 17/07/2004 21:07

I am currently taking anti-depressants. Without them I would be crying all the time. I feel that the constant anxiety of living with an alcoholic parent until 18 years of age (I am now 41), then raising a child with mis-diagnosed specific learning difficulties who now has very low self-esteem, has taken its toll on serotonin levels in my brain. Isn't constant stress bad for you? I am now changing my diet, getting more exercise and taking more time for myself but am afraid to come off the anti-depressants which have lifted a great weight from my shoulders. Would love some comments.

Patricia(GMC11099) - 01/08/2004 22:31

To Anonymous who has OCD. Do, please, see a specialist, or a qualified psychologist (Dr. in psychology, preferably). You can ring up, and you don't need to see any other doctor in advance for reference. There are also some very mental health sites on the internet, including the "Royal College of Psychiatrists U.K." site. But, you need a professional diagnosis, as perhaps your problem is not OCD but something else. Take care P.

James(SLE17145) - 25/08/2004 15:31

\"Chemical changes take place in the brain which cause depression –key molecules called neurotransmitters do not work correctly or they are present in the wrong amounts.\" After suffering for 10 years and haven taken medication (lexapro) I personally find this misleading, there is little credited evdience (i.e that which is not released by the pharmaceutical firms) to back this sweeping comment. The complex workings of the brain are not completely understood and only after I read about the social and physcological aspects of our lives have I been convinced that the key to unlocking depression lies not in medication but personal analysis of ones life and adressing certain issues. I strongly recommend anyone to read the works of Dorothy Rowe (The way out of your prison) and Terry Lynch (Beyond Prozac) and I hope this will open your eyes and minds to change as it is doing mine. I am not condeming SSRI\'s but be very very cautious of advice from a GP or psychiatrist the quasi \"experts\", the answer lies in us all not in little white tablets. Ask your GP does has he wanted to end it all? Ask him what role has a holistic approach in medicine and see if he can convince you. I am not a cynic, but someone who has been through severe depression and would like to offer hope to others, remember a candle losses nothing by lighting another candle.

Anonymous - 05/09/2004 15:45

James-25/08- Delighted to read our article- have read your recommended books and agree that the answer lies within ourselves. However, having suffered from severe disabling depression on and off for 12 years i would not advise anybody to say no to medication but a mix of both theraphy and medication can be ideal. One needs to be able to deal with and be ready for theraphy and i know without medication i would not have got to theraphy. However ECT etc is a different story

Pat(DML15856) - 19/10/2004 23:46

psychiatrist's and doctor's would do a lot more for mentally ill people if they stopped telling them that they have a so-called "illness" or "disease" of the brain. Depression and other mental conditions are ALWAYS caused by real life events, where a person's self-esteem is at the core of the problem. The best way to overcome their depressed feelings is to look at the issues which have caused them to have low self-esteem in the first place. People who have low self-esteem develop methods throughout their life of coping with these insecurities. An example would be not singing a song in front of a room full of guests for fear they will think you sound bad. A person with high self-esteem will not care about what people will think of him. Depression occurs in a person's life when these coping strategies they have dependended on no longer work. For instance, in a particular job, when they are expected to be good communicators all the time. Over time, the person's childhood insecurities may continue to hinder everyday life in this job, making living life unbearable. This can lead to emotional breakdown to the point where the person experiences a wide range of symptoms previously unknown to them. Because of their fear of these feelings, and because of the pressures of society, they turn to their G.P.'s for anti-depressants to help them get out of this mess. If, instead, they took a good long look at their life, and seen where and how they have managed their insecurities, and then went on to see where these insecurities actually originated from, because they all come from somewhere in this life. Contrary to certain beliefs, nobody is born with low self-esteem, they merely develop it throughout their life, but here's the good news; they can leave it behind them, and thats what depression offer, a sort of a wake up call, and a way to leave behind those childhood insecurities that have been dogging you all your life. You may say you have lived a normal happy life before this, but think long and hard about that before you assume that to be through. By doing this with or without the help of a trained counsellor which GP's certainly cannot claim to be, you stand a much greater chance of beating this debilitating stress.

Anonymous - 20/10/2004 10:14

Pat, from one who's been there, I think you are over-simplifying depression. It is not 'ALWAYS' caused by life events and chemical imbalance can be a contributory factor, this is where lithium plays a part. Also hormones can have a profound effect on depression, for example female hormone imbalance (in males or females) or thyroid homone deficiency, the latter of which will require medication for life in most cases (just as a type one diabetic will require the insulin hormone for life). Additionally, while nobody is born with low self-estemm it can be something that's instilled into them from an early age, when they know no different. It's worth bearing in mind too, that many men (more so those of the 50 - 60 age bracket) in Ireland were never thought to communicate and share their feelings from a young age the way women were. It important also to be aware that whether for genetic or environmental reasons certain types of depression do seem to run in families from one generation to the next.

Maria(REH15529) - 20/01/2005 11:15

i have bee on anti depressant medication for over a year now. last year i discovered a very good psychotherapist who helped me to deal with many of the issues that caused my depression. unfortunately my doctor was not particularly supportive and certainly did not refer or reccommend. i am currently coming of my medication and feel that this time i will be able to move on.

Anonymous - 14/02/2005 02:22

I agree, a very good article.I would like to say that not all GP's are good at recognising depression. I have suffered through two bouts of depression. The first time my GP immediately recognised the signs and emphatised with the way was feeling.She immediately referred me to a consultant, who treated me with medication, which I no longer needed 6 months later. My second episode was a different matter. I had moved house and GP. In spite of my previous history my GP did not recognise that I was depressed. He put my feelings down to my age and other factors.After a number of unsuccessful visits,all the time feeling really bad I asked for a referral letter to a specialist which I got. I am on medication for the past 6 years although much better. I often wonder if I had received treatment earlier would it has been so prolonged.

Anonymous - 18/02/2005 11:02

has anyone used human givings or emotional therapy technique,they are used like councelling.

Anonymous - 23/02/2005 01:14

I suffer from anxiety for the past 7 months. It just appeared out of the blue without reason. I am currently taking "lexapro" it is kinda helping but would rather not take them. Cant get Johns Wort any more here in Ireland. It would be a great help if somebody knows of any other medecines to take.

Anonymous - 23/02/2005 09:35

You can still get St. John Work over the counter in Newry. By the way, it IS available here. You'll just need your GP to perscribe it now.

Anonymous - 14/03/2005 20:21

i'm not sure if i have depression or not, but i do know that i have been suffering a lot of stress over the last 12 months. i sometimes feel that it is pointless doing anything at all because i am going to die anyway so what is the point. i know that this is silly thinking but when i am in that frame of mind it doesn't seem to matter if it makes sense or not, i get a very frightened feeling running through my body. i would be interested in hearing about sympthems of stress.

Anonymous - 15/03/2005 09:39

Hi Anon, I too suffered a period of great stress over 18 months are it seems that our symptoms are similar. There were times, when after work in the evening and at weekends I just wanted to lie on my bed and not think or curl up and cry for ne reason. I spent my time feelign totally exhausted with no interest in anything. I didn't want to go out or talk to anyone.

Anonymous - 16/03/2005 20:02


Anonymous - 05/04/2005 20:27

i dont know if its stress or anxiety i feel what exactly are the symptoms i feel tried weak and in a daze all the time and anxious in work at homedoesnt matter were i am doctor says it stress i feel like there not enough information on the topic, are stress and panic attacks different cause what i feel is scary

Anonymous - 05/05/2005 14:12

Thank you for the artical. I am on the same medication for the past 5 years and it's wearing me out and wearing me down! Whatever about identifying and treatment of depression, I think the "follow-on" help just does not exist. It's the same old story..."Help given between 9.30 and 17.05- Monday to Friday. I actually do not mind having to be on medication of some sort for the "rest of my life", but I KNOW I am better now than I was when I first became ill, so why do I need the same level of medication? I think the medical profession hides behind the cloak of litigation all too often, and it's a case of "keep it nice and steady" and keep taking the pills.

Anonymous - 30/06/2005 05:52

I dont think any of you know what you are talking about . I m only 18 and i think i am more clued in than most of you. Everyone is different therefore people s depression is brought on by many different things. I have been "diagnosed" with depression and im seeing a councellor regularly and im on anti-depressants. None of which are working. When someone one feels suicidal no one can know how they feel and if I want to end my life why cant I?Sure alot of people can relate to it but i feel us hopeless are on our own. If this is how life as an adult is Fxxk it i dont want it.

Anonymous - 07/07/2005 23:59

Had a heart attack last year,having panic attacks since put on 125mg of lustrel,head is mussey and up tight most of the time

Anonymous - 18/07/2005 02:19

I went through several horrific years. It all started in my late teens. When I was young I was constantly visiting our local church and I felt very good about myself and did very well in school. When I went to secondary school I lost the connection that I had. I was disinterested in anything to do with God or religion. I began to hate the name and anything to do with Mass. From then on I felt that I was alone. It crept up on me gradually like a slow fog coming in on the ocean. Now I had no-one to talk to in my mind. I thought that I knew all the answers. I had always wanted to be a writer but at the time I got impatient with school and picked up a low-paid job instead. I felt ashamed of myself because I knew I could do better but anyway I eventually married and had a large family. I had about one good day in each month. The rest of the time I was just going through the motions. It got to the point where I genuinely wanted to finish myself off. I would go up the road to a river and think and think about drowning myself. One day I was so bad. I was down on my hands and knees crying my eyes out. The pain got so bad,my heart was about to break and I just shouted out at the top of my voice. "GOD,WHERE ARE YOU!" A tiny voice seemed to bubble up inside me. "Well, I thought you were never going to ask!" That little voice absolutely shocked me. I sat back on the grass stunned. The voice sounded so cute and there was a tiny sense of humor in it! Imagine He was there all the time. He had never left me. My life took on an amazing transformation after that. I began to ask questions and was stunned at the wisdom of the answers. Why was I depressed? Because you are not doing what you love to do. What I had always wanted to be was a writer so I began to write stories and poems at home and I began to be totally absorbed in what I was doing. The work areas that I loved to do like cleaning and washing clothes began to light up. I got my husband cooking because he had a fascination for that and I hated it. Today I do the things that I mostly love to do and I believe from the bottome of my heart that this is what depression is all about. When you truly love something depression does not exist. Education I believe should be about concentrating on what each child's passion is and ensuring that each of them follow through in the work place. I believe that the point system for the Leaving Certificate has a huge part to play in depression. If a child cannot get into an area that it loves then that child will be forced into something that doesn't suit them or that they hate!

Anonymous - 19/07/2005 13:10

\'antidepressants non addictive\' ...thats a blatent, misleading lie. What about the withdrawal issue ? What about Seroxat and the side effects? What about the clear evidence that anti-depressants can lead to dependence and an inability to come off without severe withdrawals? antidepressants \'rewire \' the brain This is very dangerous . There is no proof of a so called \'chemical imbalance\' this is just a theory , thought up by clever and devious marketing departments in pharmaceautical companies to sell more anti-depressants. In my opinion, depression is most commonly an emotional condition ...drugs are not the answer...

Anonymous - 19/07/2005 14:35

Anon - I thought litium was used to treat chemical imbalance in the brain.

Anonymous - 19/07/2005 14:41

I think there is a tide of change against the use of drugs for mental health. Finally, we as a society are intelligent enough to know why we have been subjected to serious errors of medical judgement on the subject of mental health. Let us continue this fight against psychiatry and instead help ourselves maintain mental health

Anonymous - 19/07/2005 22:40

Anon: 14:41 I agree totally with what you said. When you go to a doctor or a psychiatrist all they will do is listen and then write a prescription. Just listening is pathetic in this day and age. You are not doing a person any favors here. An encourager is what is badly needed in this area. Someone that can really make a differance. Someone that can tap into an area that the patient would truly enjoy. Involvement, action and encouragement are vital in the mental health area. We haven't got that at the moment.

Anonymous - 20/07/2005 09:36

I think that Anonymous Posted: 18/07/2005 02:19, really says so much. As a child I was encouraged to do things I enjoyed - reading, writing (usually long esays) growing things and looking after animals. As an older girl and teen growing up I was only envcouraged in things that would provide me with a wht as percieved as a good (popular) career to provide me wiuth an income as an adult. I'm not sayign thsi is a bad thing but it dos force a lot of round pegs into sqaure holes - jobs and careers they dislike or hate that saps their creativity and lets their talent go to waste. By the time soem people realise it they're under pressure not to change careers becuase of financial and family responsibility.

Anonymous - 03/08/2005 10:03

What ever you do make sure you are not afraid to talk about your depression, talking is a great help and it is amazing how many out there actually understand what you are going through, eventually you will see you have more good days than bad and slowlt but surely you will get there.Accepting you have depression is a big thing, so start there and talk to whoever listen.

little bear - 31/12/2005 02:35

anyone else love xmas if so don ot answer i have had enough of it can wait till it is all cleared away ;of course it will be me doing that

Big Bear - 05/01/2006 19:01

Little bear, I find Christmas absolutely horrible! Now that hardly any of us go to mass anymore Christmas actually means nothing. It's only all about giving stupid presents, money and those ridiculous decorations. Where are the simple Christmas's gone when we really did celebrate? The feeling just seems to be gone!

Nonny - 06/01/2006 10:54

Little bear and big bear. I'm not a church goer, haven't beenfor years but I still enjoy Christmas. To me, its a much needed break in the middle on Winter, a chance to relax and an opportunity to get together with those you love, be they family or friends. If you don't like giving stupid presents, find mpore maningful/spiritual/practical ones. If you don't like your decorations, find ones you do like, whether it's a tree and lots of holly and Ivy, or glitter and coloured lights. That said, there's no law that sayts you absolutely must have a huge Turkey ansd ham and you must absolutely love Christmas.

Anonymous - 19/04/2006 16:46

My brother is 26, handsome talented & a really good guy. He has suffered with depression for the last number of years. He lives at home with my parents & younger brother and it is torture watching him spend his life sleeping on the couch in the living room, he is afraid to go out as he has a thing in his head that everyone is looking at him & laughing. He tries to put a happy face when the family are around and the terrible thing is we go along with as its easier. My 20 year old brother spends a lot of his time in the evening staying in with him as he is frightened to leave him on his own. He tried to end his life on a couple of occassions before, one time he threw himself in the river but some people passing saw the incident & got help. I am so worried about him, I feel bad about him whenever I think of him as I feel I'm not doing enough to help him. Does anyone have any suggestions? We had a difficult childhood with an alcholic & violent father but he's an old man now & the rest of it have pretty much dealt with it and moved on. My brother confided in me that he doesn't trust himself to go to work as he said he has on occassion been very tempted to cut off his arm or injure himself badly with some of his tools. He takes medication which helps sometimes but I guess it's the usual scenario- as soon as he starts feeling better he stops taking it. What is the best thing to do? How can I help him?

sile(sileh) - 20/04/2006 10:48

My heart goes out to the lady with the brother with depression. It is strange to hear depression talked about by an onlooker rather than a sufferer. I cant give you any guidance i am afraid except to say keep listening and encourage him to take his meds. You cant fix it for him but it is a help to know that there is somebody to listen even if you cant talk. Meds dont cure depression but they do make life livable. Try and distance yourself- its his depression and its bad enough that it is destroying his life dont let it destroy and take over yours as well

kenny - 28/09/2006 15:30

I am delighted with your article on stress and depression. I have been suffering schizoprenia for over ten years now and sometimes have episodes of depression but have reduced stressful work conditions that have adverse health effects and I am now managing my health better.

Anonymous - 28/09/2006 23:02

Depression I think is easier to handle than going on a high. At least the only way is up but when you are up it is very disappointing to have to come down. Is there any drug that could keep you up without the bad parts?

susie - 12/04/2007 20:41

i think the stress of my job has my head done in and feeling depressed, any suggestions

Anonymous - 27/05/2007 23:35

Susie as it has been said "to thine ownself be true" Try and look for another job or even a different area if there are any where you do work. Write a letter to yourself can sometimes work as if you re-read it may put a few things in perceptive...but then I am one to talk I have done this in the past and then get on with my "happy " lot and have to say that there are times when the world does seem a very black place but then again there are times when it seems more grey. I think there are more and more grey times at the moment and the blacker clouds are forming so I think it may be a time to look for a more professional outlook so mabey you would consider that to and the VERY BEST of LUCK to you and all of you who are told to "snap out of it "

northside girl - 25/07/2007 15:04

I have bi polar disorder, diagnosed when I was 24, I'm now 40. I have learned to cope really well with it mostly due to an excellent psychotherapist I see every week, and finding a good private psychiatrist (even though he's expensive). I work full time in a very responsible job, own my own home and run a car. It can be really tough, but mental illness has made me who I am, I wouldn't wish it away. I'm also very creative, with art and writing and this is connected to my illness at times as well. Life can be good despite having a life long mental illness.

jen1 - 31/12/2008 22:12

Hi to u all out there, Happy New Year. I have suffered with firstly stress, then depression / panic attacks with the past 4 years & I can relate to alot of the stories u all have sent in. I have no proof but it all started happening when my mam died 9 years ago. I also believe that it was as far back as my teens when i was beaten. at 16, now 30. At first, when the voices in my head were new to me I thought I was going mad but when I was open with people that I suffer, they also said that it happens to them so I then knew I was'nt alone. My dad also suffers depression who is a recovering alcoholic. Because I saw this, I try to stay away from drink when Im down. I also feel regular pressure with my tummy when I have panic attacks in particular. Im trying at moment to move house, looking forward to it long term but im feeling quiet down at present. " Rescue Remedy " is what I take when I have panic attacks, all natural. Worth given it a try.


Frances - 15/01/2009 18:36

I have suffered from depression on and off for some years but it hit me really hard in Oct 2008 and I did not seek help from my GP until mid December 2008 - a very foolish idea that I thought I could get through it all on my own. I have been attending my GP for over 35yrs and trust him completely, so I should have sought his help a LOT earlier. I'm now on Lexapro anti-depressants. They're no miracle cure but I do feel a lot better most days. I still have "off" days when I don't even want to get out of bed and have panicky feelings. I cry a lot and often think I am going mad but I know my GP is only a phone call away and that helps. Everyone I know is very sympathetic but I don't think anyone really understands - I don't really understand either! I don't drink or smoke because I have other health issues i.e. Emphysema, haemochromatosis, arthritis etc. I found your article very helpful. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with the dreaded depression!

jen1 - 17/01/2009 00:02

Hi Frances, Jen1 here.

CoolThanks for ur message. I truly believe that it's people who are in the same boat who can help each other. Some people out there may have tried something which may have worked for them in dealing with the strain of depression & know that it's worth passing on to others as it may help. As I said in my last message " Rescue remedy " has helped my panic attacks. I feel it's luck of the draw when it comes to doctors/ professionals who work in this area as some don't give a hoof & others can be really helpful.

I have went for counselling a few times in the past but I found only one counsellor to be really understanding & a great listener. Others can be putting to much pressure on u in asking 20 questions & not having good suggestions in order to help. It's quiet difficult to choose good friends as some are too judgemental in calling u loopy. I recently opened up to this guy who I had only met on that night as it came up in conversation. He virtually said to me " u don't have depression " but thankfully there was another man in room who also suffers, who put him in his place. I felt really down.

I have been open to alot in employment who have thankfully understood & to this day their great friends. The one thing that really makes depression hit me is when I don't have alot of company but once I have, it feels as if I never suffered. Another thing thats great is been creative in someway as it's sooooo therapeutic. Try out something on regular basis if it's something u enjoy. Im doing volunteering in a youth centre as I love kids. Well I don't take antidepressants anymore as my goal is to try fight it by changing around my lifestyle. I get quiet upset from time to time as I feel my family don't realise that im suffering more than they thing.

Im in my new home with a week & Im really happy but It's hard to believe that something good has happened. I'm living in Waterford & I go to a group every 2 weeks, where everyone also suffers depression, panic attacks & anxiety. The group is attending a presentation at the end of jan in Cork to raise awareness for mental illnesses. What we aim to do is make the public aware of these horrible illnesses. I will be 1 of the head speakers there.

Frances - 19/01/2009 18:15

Hi Jen1 and thanks a million for your message. I thoroughly agree with your idea of keeping busy to take your mind off "strange thoughts". I, unfortunately, cannot work due to medical illnesses, and getting out and about is difficult most days but I get stuck into housework and at the moment am a bit obsessive about that. I must have the cleanest oven in Ireland because I seem to head for that when my day is going badly. I'm also finding concentration VERY hard and I'm all over the place and not really finishing anything I start, because I forget what I was doing in the first place! Even during conversations my mind goes blank and I feel mortified. Luckily my friends understand and make a joke of it. My GP is a terrific source of support and I would be lost without him. He was never a man to give out drugs willy nilly so when he put me on anti-depressants I knew I must need them. We have long chats and he's always there for me God Bless him!

My family i.e sister and brothers, I have to say don't think I'm so bad with depression. That's mostly my fault because I keep a lot in and over the years have become very good at putting on a "front". My best friend knows when I'm having a bad day because he says I don't put on the makeup and do the hair!

He's another great supporter so really I'm very lucky, even though I feel alone most of the time.

Anyway, Jen, thanks again for your message and I wish you well as I do all others with HORRIBLE depression

Marzipan - 27/05/2009 10:37

I also find this article a little too simplistic. Whereas antidepressants are not necessarily physically addictive, people can easily become reliant on them and continue taking them for years in lieu exploring the issues that contribute to their depression and using their own resources in dealing with it. Other forms of psychotherapy as well as CBT are not considered in this article which I think is an oversight. I wonder does the writer class humanistic forms of therapy as 'the shoulder to cry on method' which doesn't have long lasting effects. An opportunity to explore the environmental factors in the person's life that have contributed to the chemical imbalance, and caused the depression, can be a far more self empowering method of treating depression. I strongly feel that there is certainly a place for anti depressants in the treatment of depression. I think it would be helpful for everyone if psychiatrists and other medical professionals would consider that forms of psychotherapy, other than (and not excluding) CBT, also have their place in the treatment of depression.

buzz - 31/05/2010 11:21

In two minds. I started antiD's six weeks ago. In some ways I feel better (appearance, confidence etc) but whereas before I simply had suicidal ideation now I have begun thinking about the actual act. Methods. How parents would be affected. How I could minimise that pain. They seem to make ppl more proactive, which is not necessarily a good thing.

laddy - 20/06/2010 13:25

I jus wanna know if Irish people, or, more specifically, women of Irish descent, have a chemical predisposition to depression...

granette - 04/12/2013 11:00

I spoke with my 15 year old daughter last night and asked her if she thought she was depressed and she admitted that she was..as she feels like crying all the time, dosent want to leave the house, loss of appetite, school work suffering. I asked her to come to the doctor with me but she has point blank refused. I tried to talk to her this morning about it and she just said I'm ok and I dont want to talk about it again...I am really worried and dont know what to do apart from physically dragging her there....I also have a 32 year old son who has anxiety and panic attacks and he hits the bottle occasionally and tries to harm himself...I had a chat with him yesterday too and tried to get him to see a counsellor, he dosent want to either, but he is going to be a father in a few months time and I want him to be able to cope with the new stresses and worries that will face him..I am at my wits end with both of them...help

marzipian - 05/12/2013 14:52

To Granette,

My heart goes out to you.  My suggestions would be to leave brochures around the house from psychotherapists ( you can phone them and ask them to send you on some.) Leave the internet on at a page that discusses the facts about depression/anxiety. I find Moodjuice.co.uk does great self help booklets that you can print out.

Unfortunately you can't force them  but you can provide them with information that they can pick up in their own time.  In the meantime, support yourself in this. People tend to do as we do, not as we say! 

I hope this helps.

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