“Depression” – the very words can leave someone unsettled, anxious and scared, and even evoke a fear of being labelled with “having a mental health issue”.
The truth is we can often neglect to take care of ourselves and take the steps to address mental health symptoms before they become all-consuming and detrimental to our wellbeing.
Figures suggest that 1 in 3 of us will have a mental health issue in our lifetime, with 1 in 4 of us going through something right now. I personally think that these figures are incorrect, strongly suspecting it to be a much higher number due us failing to report ill Mental Health, because of the stigma that comes with the term.
This doesn’t make sense in my opinion. Almost all us would take steps to treat a physical health issue, such as taking a Lem-Sip or Beechams for cold symptom’s or popping a paracetamol when we feel a headache coming on.
So why are we failing to treat Mental Health issues in the same way? Doctors are held in high esteem and we sometimes book unnecessary appointments in the hope of finding instant relief to our discomfort.
I’m not averse to understanding the reasons as to why people ignore the symptoms of poor mental health. If you’re at work, and you report stress, the fear is you may not be seen to be able to cope with the job, or assume being ridiculed if you become anxious or depressed. We somehow worry that we appear ‘less than’ from those around us, often hearing the words ‘snap out of it’.
I don’t know about you, but when I get my annual heavy head cold, I can’t always think straight. I also don’t always want to get out of bed, and those around me don’t need to ask, to understand. Our very obvious physical symptoms can be a simple explanation for our reluctance; we just don’t have to explain any further.
If I was suffering with depression for example, I might just want to stay in bed all day and not provide any reasoning to the world. I may not want to explain why I can’t work out something, or why I can’t make a decision, and for a cause that people may find simplistic or misunderstood. Depression is far from simplistic, the signs are not obvious and the thought of having to explain that you’re in trouble can feel like a huge hurdle.
As a psychotherapist with a real understanding of a such hurdles, I aim to offer practical tips and advice on overcoming and combatting a spectrum of these issues and symptoms. There will a series of articles appearing over the next few weeks designed to help raise awareness and understanding of common mental health problems, that no doubt all of us have suffered at some point.
You may feel that you’re suffering alone, but sometimes a little expert advice can shed some light on often what seems like a dark cloud over our lives. Daily contact with many suffering in this area has highlighted to me, the real need to have open discussion and dialogue, to hopefully break taboos in this vast area.
Ben Selby is an experienced psychotherapist and counsellor, working with people in Plymouth and the surrounding areas, offering video and telephone counselling.