How do you handle depression: I suppose when you... - Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK
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How do you handle depression


I suppose when you have chronic health problems like most of us have an element of depression is not unusual. So do members get depressed and how do they handle it.

The last few months i have been feeling depressed life seems pointless at times. And i just have the feeling i have lived too long (early 60s) I had a bad episode of depression in the late 90s but while i got over i still get the SAD feelings in late November/early December. For me the spring summer is my good time but this year even in the summer the feelings persist.

The idea of going to the GP for tablets is not very appealing. So any tips to help me through the bad times.

6 Replies

Hi albion

I would recommend looking at and exploring a website called 'living life to the full' which you can find at It is written by a Consultant Psychiatrist in Glasgow, Dr Chris Williams, and is based on cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT which you may of heard of. I used to work as a psychiatrist in Glasgow (I have recently taken early retirement due to my ataxia) and regularly recommended this site to my patients. This psychological approach can be as beneficial as taking medicine. I completed training in how to deliver this for my work but personally regularly use the site.

There are things advised in the treatment of depression that people with ataxia have great difficulty doing, for example going for a walk everyday. I think there is an alternative to most things. I am not able to go for a walk everyday but do do daily exercises which have been recommended to me in the past by a physio. My motivation to do these everyday can wear a bit thin at times (!) so I have to think of ways to make it enjoyable. This mostly comprises of doing the exercises to uplifting music that I enjoy. Then I think although doing the exercises can be a pain but it has huge benefits both in the short term (the feeling of accomplishment) and in the long term (on my muscles and balance/co-ordination). I try to apply this way of thinking to most tasks-making them as fun as possible.

Have a look at 'living life to the full'. I hope you find it as helpful as I do.

Best Wishes


in reply to HarryB

Like your post Harriet. Good advice!

Hi albion!

I can empathise with your comments, all of them. Deep down we all know if we can just

motivate ourselves to do something, anything, but mostly something enjoyable, becoming

absorbed in a task/whatever is a distraction, and alters your train of thought. Sorry, long

winded I know!

Around the time that the clocks go back is a bad time for me too. I can recognise now that

this has happened every year, not especially since diagnosis. I've already got a clock that

simulates daylight, because starting the day in darkness is disorientating, and I'm thinking

about getting a lightbox. A friend uses one and finds it beneficial.

Obviously exercise, if you can manage it, helps lift the spirits. I've got a book about

Mindfulness, also useful, I should read it more but I keep procrastinating! xB

Hi albion,

I do sympathise as I have been suffering from severe depression for a few years now.

Tablets from your GP can help, but they can only really help stabilise you (smooth out the highs and lows). Pills on their own can never 'fix' depression. Also, it is difficult to find the right tablet, between my GP and my psychiatrist, it took them over three years to find the right medication for me. Don't let this put you off medication, just don't expect a cure.

Do talk to your GP, he or she needs to know, otherwise they can't help. They might be able to arrange someone for you to talk to for example. If this is on offer do take it up.

Follow Harriet's advice, and if you can, mix with people and try to keep busy. It works for me... I recently moved into council sheltered housing and having people to talk to, even if only briefly, has really helped.

Best wishes.

Hi Albion,

I was deeply depressed. A low dose of antidepressant turned my life around, and I could

be me again. As well as that, I went to a self help group. Initially I was very apprehensive

because I'd cut myself off from people, my balance wasn't great and I was slurring. But

it turned out to be a good experience, I feel better for it. xB


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy worked for me. There are many different systems you can use to help keep a possitve mind. Its just a matter of choosing the right system that works for you. I used to be a very negative minded person and by applying CBT techniques I now have a very possitive attitude.

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