Like this painted heart, therapy should be at the centre of our communities
Recent studies have shown that the dispensing of anti-depressants is on the increase. People seem to be heading to the GP after years of avoiding seeking help. In my view, medication is not always the answer to depression even though clearly it has helped many people and saved many lives.
Anti-depressants don't work for everyone. They can take months to kick in - they treat the symptoms but not the cause. People never really confront what had made them ill in the first place. In my view, working to find out what it is at the root of our depression is key to achieving a sustainable recovery with increased awareness.
So, what to do?
- find someone to talk to. Not easy when we are in the blackness of depression. Yet sometimes all that's needed is for someone to listen and for us to be believed. All our journeys are different and each one is equally important.
- take precautions for our mental health just as we are advised to take care of our physical health. We can take steps to protect our minds - don't try too hard, expect less, challenge our thinking.
- accept what we can't change. Go on a holiday, nurture friendships, start a hobby. Try self-expression like art or writing. A short walk is good for starters.
- let's bring therapy to the community. There is help within a very short distance of where you are right now; and if the government won't or can't provide support, then fit's down to us to do our bit.
In the dark underworld of depression (and the private world of therapy) we can join forces and provide a listening space by those who know what depression feels like.
When loneliness in the UK is at an all time high, face to face human interaction is vital; an hour's talk rather than a box of pills could prove to be the way ahead to less isolation, more community connection and support.
Make that most private of activities - therapy - a more public encounter, supporting those who are experiencing issues with their depression.
For further reading on depression and recovery, Mark Rice-Oxley's book on 'Underneath the Lemon Tree' is a good place to start.