by Kazeem Olalekan MRPharmS
The news item yesterday that the Welsh princess (or “the princess of wales”), Catherine Zeta-Jones, was treated for bipolar disorder (1) brings the issue around mental health into sharp focus for me. The challenge of living alone makes it such that no one is immune from the problems of mental health. The comment of a friend of mine, recently appointed chief pharmacist of a mental health trust, is poignant: “We are all mental health patients, some of us just hide it better than others” (2). Mrs Zeta-Jones’s condition was attributed to the stress of her husband’s battle with throat cancer. It is brave of her to share this sometimes stigmatised fact with everyone.
In what is a depression awareness week (3), it is important to note that depression, which affects 1 in 5 people (and more that 2.9 million diagnosed in the UK) can be alleviated by seeking help from the experts. Depression Alliance, a registered charity, are ready to answer your concerns on 0845 123 23 20 (4). You may also wish to have a confidential conversation with your doctor or your high street chemist (or pharmacist).
Some suggestion for reducing the risk of depression include (5):
- Keeping physically active
- Eating well
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Valuing yourself and others
- Talking about your feelings and not bottling these up
- Keeping in touch with friends and family
- Getting involved, making a contribution to local community activities
- Learning a new skill
- Doing something creative or something for fun
- Taking a break
- Asking for help
Knowing that everyone is at risk of this may reassure you that you are not alone and any stigma attached to this is unfounded.