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Mental health awareness: Oct'13

Our Psychiatric Nurse, Emma Betts was joined by Sue Batehup our Senior Psychiatric Case Manager to answer all your questions on depression and how it affects your mental health.

AXA PPP healthcare: Good afternoon and welcome to today's live chat. Emma Betts and Sue Batehup are here to discuss mental health awareness and depression. Please send over any relation questions you may have.

Anonymous194 asked: I was diagnosed with Bipolar when I was 16. However, I have recently found out that I actually suffer from  Cyclothymia (Cyclothymic Disorder) and would like some more information about this. Ive never heard of this condition before, but after reading on the internet, I do have all the symptoms and traits of this condition.
Is there anyone I can talk to about this as I dont want to google lots of information and worry myself (as I suffer badly from paranoia and anxiety).
Thank you. Laura

Emma Betts answered: Hello Laura, Thank you for your question, the condition you mention as Cyclothymia is generally considered to be a milder form of bipolar disorder. It is characterised by alternating periods of low mood and feelings of euphoria, treatments can include  medication and psychotherapy.  You do not mention in your e-mail who made the diagnosis for you , if it was your consultant or your GP as you may find it useful to make an appointment with them to discuss this further. In the interim I have asked Dr EmmaJane Down one of our panel experts to take a look at your question and to post a reply to you.
As we currently do not have a factsheet about this condition at the moment , NHS choices has a link about it which you may find useful and I have attached the link www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cyclothymia

Dr Emma Jane Down has replied as below:

The good news is that cyclothymia is considered a milder form of bipolar disorder. It is a chronic mood disorder that causes fluctuations of high and low moods (rather than the very serious episodes of depression or mania caused by bipolar, which can often require hospital admission).  The mood swings of cyclothymia (depression and hypomania) can sometimes still be severe enough to disrupt your social and work life. If that is the case for you, it is certainly worth seeing your GP to talk about what treatments may suit you best. Treatments are available for the condition and they include both medication and therapy. Unfortunately, there is no cure as such for the condition but in some people it can simply pass. For others, it is important to try and find the best way to manage and cope with the condition so that you can live a happy life. Your GP will also be able to talk you through your own symptoms and how it affects your own life. Dr Emma Jane Down

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If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to mental health or depression, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?
 

Anonymous221 asked: I suffer from depression and have been taking Citalopram 40mg for about 2 years now.
I also take 10mg of Amitriptyline, i use this for pain relief for cluster headaches.
Although i take anti-depressants, can i ask why i still feel really down sometimes.
Apart from medication what else can i do? On good days i like to go walking and spend time with family and friends. On bad days i dont want to speak to anyone or do anything.
A lot of people dont understand and when i am at my lowest, it makes me feel worse when people stand off from me.

Emma Betts answered: Hello, self-help measures such as reading a self-help book or joining a support group are worthwhile. Exercise and a healthy diet can make a tremendous difference to how quickly you recover from depression. And they will both improve your general health, too.
Being physically active lifts your mood, reduces stress and anxiety, boosts the release of endorphins (your body's feel-good chemicals) and improves your self-esteem.
Sharing a problem with someone else or with a group can give you support and an insight into your own depression. Research shows that talking can help people recover from depression and cope better with stress.
You may not feel comfortable about discussing your mental health and sharing your distress with others. If so, writing about how you feel.
Have you had a review recently about your medication? It may be worthwhile speaking to your GP or specialist, if you have one.

Sean asked: My sister is suffering with money worries, and although I try to help her out when I can, she is often very withdrawn and perhaps unsociable. I think this is making her depressed. How can I support her?

Emma Betts answered: Hi Chris, most people experience feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short time, rather than being a sign of depression. It's important for your sister to seek help from her GP if she thinks she may be depressed.
If she has been feeling low for more than a few days, many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it's best not to delay. The sooner she sees a doctor, the sooner she can be on the way to recovery.
Sometimes there is a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as money worries can bring it on. But you can also become depressed for no obvious reason.

Sean commented: Thanks Emma.

Tori asked: I manage an individual who is suffering with depression, she has on been on the verge of a mental breakdown and has overdosed herself on pain medication twice in the last few months.
She has been suffering with depression for over a year now and I'm struggling to know what I can do to help support her towards recovery. Do you have any advise on what I can do to support her?

Emma Betts answered: Hi Tori, I don't know what help she is getting professionally and what has been offered so far however quite often just being there to listen and support her through this difficult time can be the best thing you can do. It might be worth asking her what she would like in terms of support from you.

Abby asked: What's the difference between being depressed and just being upset?

Emma Betts answered: Being depressed affects your every day life with numerous symptoms. Being upset is a normal emotion to certain situations. We have a factsheet on depression on our AXA PPP website which explains signs and symptoms of depression.
If you've been feeling low for more than a few days, many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it's best not to delay. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.

Anonymous215 asked: Hi Emma - I was wondering what the link is between feeling depressed and food? Why do we often turn to food to help combat feelings of depression and anxiety? And conversely, why can these feelings put us off eating altogether?

Emma Betts answered: People cope with feelings of depression in different ways. It is a very individual thing. Some people turn to food for comfort and stress relief while others may feel unmotivated to eat and have little or no appetite.

Sarah1 asked: With every day life I'm fine, then sometimes when I go out with friends I have a good time, until the end of the night when I've drunk too much and my thoughts float back to my ex-boyfriend. This obviously upsets me, is there anyway to help stop this. Or is it simply a case of handling my drink and thinking more positively?

Emma Betts answered: Too much alcohol can be known to affect your state of mind and emotions. Following a healthy lifestyle and limiting your alcohol intake is recommended.
The following website has a calculator to monitor your alcohol unit intake and the recommened daily intake www.kent.gov.uk/health_and_wellbeing.aspx

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If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to mental health or depression, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?
 

AXA PPP healthcare asked: We've had a question come through from Helen on Twitter:
"Can you go through depression without realising it?"

Emma Betts answered: Hi Helen, sometimes the signs and symptoms of depression are not obvious initially to the person experiencing them, however close friends and family may notice a change in behaviour. Depression affects your everyday functioning. A low mood may improve after a short time, rather than being a sign of depression.

Sean asked: Can people who regularly take anti-depressants, make a full recovery and go back to being self-reliant?

Emma Betts answered: Hi Sean. Yes, people can make a full recovery with the right treatment plan depending on their particular situation. It is important to have regular medication reviews for people who are taking anti-depressants. The medical professional doing these reviews will be monitoring the mental state of the patient and as the patient improves there can be scope to reduce / come off medications. While antidepressants can help treat the symptoms of depression, they do not always address its causes. This is why they are usually used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression or other mental health conditions caused by emotional distress.
Many people with depression benefit by making lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol and eating more healthily.
Self-help measures such as reading a self-help book or joining a support group are also worthwhile.
Being physically active lifts your mood, reduces stress and anxiety, boosts the release of endorphins (your body's feel-good chemicals) and improves your self-esteem.

AXA PPP healthcare: That is now the end of today's live chat, thank you for your questions and thank you to Emma and Sue for their answers. We hope they have helped.

 

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