April 2011

11th - 17th April: Depression Awareness Week

This week marks depression awareness week, the aim of which is to raise awareness of depression, funds for treatment of depression, and to abolish the stigma associated with depression.

Depression awareness week is a national event during which awareness is raised through fundraising events, posters and leaflets etc. The UK's leading depression charity, Depression Alliance, is calling upon supporters to help them raise funds to help treat depression. You can download a fundraising pack from their website.

How You can Help

You can help in many ways during this awareness week. You could very simply have a look at the depression alliance website using the link above, and get involved by giving money to help the cause, sharing a story you may have about being depressed and how you overcame it, or you could even hold your own fundraising event. All the information you need is on the website.

Some Facts about Depression

  • 1 in 5 people will suffer from depression in their lifetime.
  • More than 2.9 million people are diagnosed with depression at any one time in the UK.
  • As many as 3 in 4 cases of depression are never recognised or treated.
  • More than 70% of suicides are because of depression.
  • 20% of people experience depression before adulthood - that's 500,000 teenagers.
  • Of these 500,000 teenagers, only 165,000 will ask someone for help.
  • 1 in 5 teenagers with depression will think about suicide, 1 in 6 will make plans, and 1 in 12 will attempt suicide. Half of the ones that attempt suicide will kill themselves.
  • Over 80% of people with depression can be treated with appropriate help.

Know the signs

As a general rule, if you have experienced four or more of these symptoms, for most of the day nearly every day, for over two weeks, then you should seek help.

  • Tiredness and loss of energy
  • Persistent sadness
  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting
  • Undue feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual
  • Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends
  • Finding it hard to function at work/college/school
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sex drive and/ or sexual problems
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Thinking about suicide and death
  • Self harm.

Help yourself

There are now many different ways to seek help. If you want to talk to somebody about any problems or issues, you have a number of choices. You can go and see your doctor, talk to a friend or family member, or search online for various places you can go to. There are a lot of websites offering all sorts of help and information, as well offering online, anonymous, advice. You can talk to people online if you don't want to talk to anybody face to face. However, if you don't want to do this, here are 10 of the most commonly recommended things that you can do yourself, to try and overcome depression:

  1. Talk to somebody. Like mentioned earlier, you can choose to talk to someone online. This will make the whole uneasiness seem a lot less. It also means that it gives you the opportunity to stay totally anonymous. A good website for you to use for somebody to talk to is
  2. Exercise. Simple and easy, just go for a walk, join the gym, or do some press-ups at home. Exercise has been proven to help alleviate stress, even if you don't like doing it.
  3. Change your diet. Your diet can be a major factor in depression. It could be a result of too much of one thing or not enough of the other. Try to lower your sugar intake, or raise your carbohydrate intake. You can get carbohydrates from eating things like bread, baked potatoes, or bananas. Eating 3 proper meals a day is very important if you want to combat depression.
  4. Sleep properly. Too many lay-ins can result in depression. Get up earlier, go to bed earlier. If you're up by 8am, you're more likely to sleep properly and less likely to be depressed for the rest of the day. One thing to remember if you can't sleep is that if you are indoors all day, with no natural light, you will find it a lot harder to sleep at night time. This is because natural light has an effect on your brain, and light from a light bulb doesn't.
  5. Find out more information about depression. Understanding depression can really help to overcome it. Search online, go to your local doctor surgery and pick up a leaflet or speak to somebody else, whatever you choose to do to understand depression more will help you to overcome it.
  6. Make a depression diary. At the end of every day, give each one a rating out of 10, 1 being the worse. This will help you to break down when and why you get depressed, and if you seek help from a GP later on, it will help to speed up the process.
  7. Challenge your own negative thinking. If negative thinking is one of the things that is making you depressed, then challenge it. Write down your thought, and then come up with positive counterparts. For example, if you think 'the glass is half empty,' come up with 'the glass is half full.' Positive thinking has obvious effects on dealing with depression.
  8. Do something that you like. If you like to paint pictures, paint a picture. If you like to play football, play football. Do something that you like to do to improve your mood.
  9. Socialise. Being with other people can really help you to be more positive. You don't have to mention to them how you feel if it makes you feel uncomfortable, just talk about every day things. Concentrating on something other than depression also helps with overcoming.
  10. Seek medical help. If depression is really getting on top of you, and nothing that you do is working to help you feel better about yourself, then go see your local GP. They can arrange a number of services, such as counselling, and prescribe anti-depressants.

Just remember that you are not alone, there are people waiting to help.

2BME - It Gets Better ... Today

In February, the national organisation Stonewall launched the 'It gets better ... today' film competition. The aim of which was to produce a 3min film made by young people aged between 16-21, to raise awareness of the 'it gets better ... today' campaign.

The 2BME group rose to the challenge and got award winning filmmaker, Stephen Clarke, in to help develop their ideas and produce an entry.

Over the course of a few weeks and an intense weekend of filming the group completed their entry and submitted it for the competition.

We have just learned that the film came 4th, and although not making the top 3 shortlisted films, the judges praised the film very much, complementing its originality.

As 2BME's lead worker, I am over the moon with the finished product, and so proud of those who took part in this project, they have all achieved so much from doing this and hope they look back fondly in the future.