Health: Depression – don’t suffer alone
Published on Wednesday 11 April 2012 06:30
They may seem to have it all, but like 10 per cent of the population, the rich and famous can also suffer from depression. After another star speaks out, Katie Baldwin reports on this indiscriminate illness.
After another star speaks out, Katie Baldwin reports on this indiscriminate illness.
‘Every time I spoke to someone, I’d be thinking, ‘They probably think I’m a horrible person. Am I boring them? Do I look ugly?’”
As a top pop star, with fame, financial security, talent, looks and a footballer boyfriend, people might say that The Saturdays singer Frankie Sandford has everything.
But she has revealed that she has been suffering from depression – highlighting how indiscriminate the condition can be.
The 23-year-old spent a month in hospital last year after being absent from several appearances with her bandmates.
At the time it was unclear why she had needed medical treatment.
Only now has she explained it was because she had depression.
She has spoken out about her experiences as part of a campaign in conjunction with mental health charity Mind aiming to encourage people – especially young women – to talk about depression.
In a revealing interview with Glamour magazine, she said she got into a “spiral” of negative thoughts after becoming upset with boyfriend Wayne Bridge over something trivial.
She said: “It set off this spiral of negative thinking – that if I disappeared, it wouldn’t matter to anyone. In fact, it would make everybody’s life easier. I felt that I was worthless, that I was ugly, that I didn’t deserve anything.”
Then she found herself questioning whether the groups fans really liked her and eventually was admitted for in-patient care.
She said she was worried that other patients would make judgments but was pleasantly surprised.
“I was so nervous, because I was “Frankie from The Saturdays”. I didn’t know if people would be horrible to me and say: ‘You’re in a successful girl band, you’ve got this great boyfriend, he’s got loads of money’,” she said.
“But nobody judged me. Nobody thought I was weird.”
Now she says she tries not to put so much pressure on herself.
Speaking about the Hey, It’s Ok campaign, she said: “If people spoke honestly to each other, they’d realise a lot of their friends have problems like mine. [In hospital] was the first time I felt I was among people who really understood me.”
Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: “Frankie has been honest and open in speaking out about having depression, and has shown that mental health problems can affect anyone, no matter who they are.
“We’re glad to hear that she is feeling better now and hope that she can continue to have a successful recovery.”
Frankie is the latest in a long line of celebrities who have talked about their mental health problems.
Hundreds of famous people have revealed that they – as with 1 in 20 people – have suffered depression.
Dr Bushra Azam, a psychiatry specialist registrar at the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust, said the condition affected people from all walks of life.
“With the recent global economic situation, we have noticed an increase in depression cases as people have been losing jobs and having financial difficulties.
“Nevertheless a lot of well off people – including celebrities – can develop depression as well.
“Although they might not have financial issues, we should remember that other factors which include high level of work related stress, lack of sleep, relationship problems are contributory.”
She said depression could also be complicated by other mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders, and also the use of recreational drugs and alcohol which in turn can cause depressive symptoms.
Many factors, psychological, social and biological, can trigger a bout of depression.
Dr Azam said genetics can play a role, with someone with a family history of depression at comparatively high risk of developing depression later on in life if there are other risk factors, such as a major catastrophic life event like losing their job, divorce or death of a close family member.
Several sportspeople have experienced depression, sometimes linked to the end of their playing career.
Former Bradford City footballer Dean Windass has recently talked about his battle, which led him to attempt suicide.
The 43-year-old has now encouraged anyone going through similar feelings to seek help.
Depression is diagnosed when patients are showing a set of symptoms including low mood, inability to enjoy the pleasures of life, low energy, disturbed sleep, reduced appetite and poor concentration.
Dr Azam said it can also be associated with social withdrawal, irritability, lack of motivation, low self confidence, low self-esteem, feeling of worthlessness, helplessness and guilt.
She said anyone experiencing these symptoms should ask for help, while family and friends who notice them should encourage their relative to consult their GP.
“Family support is extremely important and we should recognise that depression like any other physical health problem is an illness which requires treatment, psychological and medical,” she said.
Patients will initially be assessed and then treatment would depend on the severity of the condition, with mild depression treated usually with psychological therapies and a combination of these and antidepressants in more severe cases.
Dr Azam backed calls for more people to speak out.
She said: “There is a lot of stigma around mental health issues in society which needs to be addressed and it is only possible by raising awareness among the public that everyone in society, rich or poor, can develop depression and should not be ashamed to ask for help.”