Depression self-assessment - should I see a medical professional?

Hi everyone,

At the end of last summer I moved away from my family to study a postgraduate degree in Central London. The timing was not the most fortunate as I had a rather acrimonious break-up with my girlfriend around the same time. I figured the move would do me good: I was born and raised in Cornwall and, whilst it is a beautiful place, I felt stifled by the lack of professional and academic possibilities (I play mostly jazz on the double bass).

Within the first few weeks of the move I began having feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem, which I attributed to the recent relationship breakdown coupled with my move to a new and somewhat alien environment. I made the effort to attend musical groups and extra-curricular activities, and tried my utmost to absorb myself in my studies. A few months down the line I can only say that things have spiraled downwards. My self-esteem is perhaps lower than it has ever been; there are days in which I will actively avoid social interaction of any kind. My sleep cycle and appetite are totally erratic.Coming from a farming background I've always been an early riser, but the last few days, I am totally ashamed to say, have been spent almost entirely in bed. I feel little to no motivation or enthusiasm for things I would usually love doing, such as playing my instrument or going out for a long bike ride. I have also been purposefully avoiding my lectures despite knowing full well what the consequences may be. I have essay and dissertation proposal deadlines coming this week: both remain uncompleted and I feel totally unphased. At present I feel incapable and of extremely little worth. I have been attending counselling sessions at my university since October but find them of little use, and have found the same with the self-help guides found via the NHS site.

More recently a few members of my family have fallen ill. My family is a large and close-knit one, and all of us feel a very strong bond. Knowing they are unwell and being so far from them has only exacerbated my anxiety.

I have spoken to my family to some extent about my circumstances, but feel my problems are trivial in comparison, and am too ashamed to tell them everything. I know depression is hereditary on my father's side, and that he suffered with it when he was my age. I honestly thought I had the strength to deal with this myself, but am doubting that now. I have perhaps one friend I would feel comfortable talking to about this, but I know he suffers from periodically acute mental health issues, and as such is not always available to speak to.

My question, then, is this: would it be beneficial to approach my GP about this? Upon taking the NHS self-assessment it was the recommended course of action, but if all they're going to do is stuff me full of anti-depressants, I'm not sure I want to. I saw behavioural therapy mentioned on another thread here just now, is such a thing included on the NHS?

Many thanks for taking the time to read this.

9 Replies

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  • Hello, i'm certainly no professional and the first few times I went to my GP all they offered were pills, they didn't even listen or talk to me. I felt the lowest ever around November last year and booked a weekend away doing something called SHEN, it costs a lot of money but afterwards felt such a big difference but its not something I could afford again and not something the nhs would pay for. I am on anti-depressants but only 20mg and that was after spending time with a doctor who listened and talked. Things have got better but yesterday after a breakdown in my relationship and it being my birthday I couldn't stop crying but today I feel better.

    I know i'm waffling on here and probably not helping, but go to your GP and tell him everything and what you would like, if you don't want pills yet tell them, or keep going back till you see a doctor who does listen.

    You have coped with a lot, relationship, move ect so don't be so harsh on yourself but keep searching for help, something will work eventually.

    I'm sorry I cant be of much help, just wanted to say hello and let you know there is away out eventually.

    take care Linda

  • You sound like a guy who cares a huge amount for the people around him, and that's a good and enviable attribute. I understand how you feel about your family members being unwell. My Mum's health contributes for about 80 % of my worry and sadness. No one can tell you not to worry, or to let someone else bear the burden of their care, because when you love someone as much as you obviously do yor family, their problems became your problems. I'm sure they would not consider your difficulties trivial, neither would they want you to feel ashamed of how you feel. Although I do understand what you mean by that, because I choose to share very little with my family.

    I think you should make an appointment to see your GP. Antidepressants are just one of many different ways that depression can be treated. I don't know what behaviour therapy is, but I have seen it mentioned lots of times on here.

    I'm not sure if you're new to this site, but I have found people hugely supportive and caring and I've really benefited from being able to share things I havent been able to talk to 'real people' about.

    Take care, I will think about you x

  • Hi

    I would see your GP but antidepressants are certainly not the only course of treatment so don't let anyone fob you off with them if they are not what you want. Cognitive behavioural therapy is available on the NHS and you are entitled to that form of treatment, it should be readily available in central London, but if I were you I would google and research to find out where it is available locally to where you are at Uni and then research the qualifications of the people offering the CBT so that you get a good standard first time around - there's no point in having a poor therapy experience when you clearly have research skills. Keep your chin up and remain focussed on your studies if you can, also try not to blame yourself for being so far away, although your family are close you do not have to alter your life in order to accomodate to the circumstances of other family members, it would be good if you were nearer perhaps but you are not, maybe you can get home every term and half term weekend, that's a reasonable interval for most circumstances. Good luck with finding the CBT. Suexx

  • Thanks to all for your responses.

    Linda - that is my primary concern for going to the NHS about this. I've heard a lot of stories of doctors/GPs who simply do not listen, and/or appear uninterested. Courses like SHEN sound great but I have a pretty enormous financial constraint at present. You're neither waffling or being unhelpful - I appreciate your reply, and in turn hope things start looking up for you too.

    Suzie34 - thank you for your touching response. It can indeed be difficult to focus on other matters when a loved one is unwell. I've just registered with the site today, but am finding it helpful already, and am glad I did.

    secondhandrose - that is good to know about the CBT. Are there any levels or titles of qualifications I should be on the look out for? I've seen several doctorates in Counselling and/or Psychology on a particular site, sounds quite promising. I'm guessing one has to go through a GP to book the sessions on the NHS? It's not that I blame myself for being far away (my parents encouraged my seeking new pastures, in fact) - I just find it difficult being a larger distance from them when I know they're going through a pretty rough patch. I would go back more often but, as I previously mentioned, am really strapped for cash at present and cannot afford frequent train journeys.

    Again, thanks to all for your help.

  • Paul McKenna does some great self help books in all sorts of different subjects and they don't cost the earth. I find it frustrating and it was something discussed on breakfast tv a few weeks ago, how doctors are too quick to write out a prescription for tablets rather try and look at alternative therapies and sadly not available on the nhs. good luck anyway and use this site, it helps me.

  • Hi,

    If it was for private therapy then the best way to look for a well trained therapist is to look on one of the national registers - NRCBT, BACP and UKCP. Other people may be good at what they do but you have no way of checking that out. However if they are practicing CBT as therapists within the NHS rather than staff who do a bit of CBT within their other work then they are likely to have the right qualifications and training because the NHS covers its back and doesn't allow unqualified staff to apply for therapist jobs. Anyone who has done a CBT Post-Grad Diploma training should be good, you could ask them at first interview have they done the full professional training or just a short course, if just a short course you could ask to be teferred to someone who is fully trained unless you are happy to work with the person you see. With all therapies the relationship is a major part of the success of the treatment so finding someone who you feel understands you is the most important thing, but if it is a very brief therapy then the skill of the therapist becomes just as important because there isn't long to get it right! Good luck and do let us all know how you manage.

    Suexx

  • Hi, sorry, you asked if it would be through your GP, yes they can refer you, probably to either a Clinical Psychologist or CBT therapist attached to the GP practice (some practices have one). Suex

  • Hi and welcome to the site. You sound like you have an awful lot on your plate at the moment. I think you have become overwhelmed with it all and I don't blame you. Anyone would. In the short term I think anti-depressants will help you. They are not a long term fix but they should make you feel a bit better in the meantime and better able to deal with the other issues. Ad's raise the seratonin level in the brain which in turn lifts your mood. They can take a few weeks to kick in but when they do the other issues won't seem so overwhelming.

    London can be lonely at first. Its a very different way of life and its easy to suffer from sensory overload. I moved there on my own at 18. I found it very strange at first and I took a lot of hard knocks. After a time though it become home and I became another 'adopted Londoner'. Londoners find it difficult to trust strangers at first which makes them seem unfriendly. They are not though - just wary. There is so much crime in the Capital and so many weird people they are just careful. Privacy is valuable in such a big city and Londoners guard theirs fiercly! But once they get to know and like you they are just like anyone else and you will make friends there. Every opportunity you want is in London and it can be a fantastic place to live. Don't give up on your dreams.

    Just take one day at a time - I know thats hard sometimes but I am sure it will pay results,

    Let us know how you get on.

    Bev x

  • Thanks for the advice regarding Paul McKenna Linda. It is, in my opinion, a widespread trait of the modern-day human to attack the symptoms rather than the causes, in any situation.

    Bev - I cannot but help remain wary of such medication. At the time of posting my question on this site I was intending to phone my GP and arrange an appointment, but since then had a period of feeling considerably more capable and optimistic, and was unsure if it was still necessary. However I am very easily knocked, and this evening find myself in much the same place as Sunday. I think I need to just bite the bullet and call them.

    Your words on London are very insightful. I still find the place rather overwhelming, and greatly miss the peace and open spaces of Cornwall, as well as my family there. I frequently feel unjustified in my move here, as well as greatly angered in myself for not having the strength to put my issues aside and focus on more immediate and practical matters. There must be a way through is - I just need to find it.

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