By Dr Chris Reid, GP
What is poor mental health? As a GP, I often see people who say, “But I’m not depressed, doctor”. Because the public often have a perception that depression has to mean someone who’s looking and feeling miserable, crying all the time. But of course, depression has a wide array of symptoms. It could be just feeling tired. It could be feeling angry, or not being able to concentrate.
Depression has a wide array of symptoms […] Depression is when those symptoms are starting to influence your quality of life.
These are factors that I think affect all of us at times. But what I would say is depression is when those symptoms are starting to influence your quality of life.
There’s still a bit of stigma around the word depression, but the conversations on social media and other places are making people more aware of it. There’s a lot of mental health issues out there. It’s not often talked about, and I would say the key thing is to talk about it. You don’t necessarily have to come and talk to your doctor. You could talk to your friends or your family, a Health Coach or other health professional – someone you trust.
There’s a huge overlap of anxiety and depression. A lot of people live in the middle. There may be a little bit of anxiety, a little bit of depression, and the treatment can often be quite similar.
When people say to me, “But I’m not depressed, doctor”, sometimes a good way to explain it is ask how they are living their life. Living life has got its ups and downs, and that’s normal. We don’t want to live our life in a total state of high. That would be quite strange. We want to live our life and have lots of good times, but we accept those bad times.
It’s back to those simple four things: exercise, diet, sleep, stress – they all interact with each other.
If you’re living in a constant low, that’s when you want to try to improve the situation. I think a nice way to talk about it is to let people explain where they are at and what they think realistic expectations are. That makes people reflect on the ups and downs of life, but it’s also about living your life, thinking about those lifestyle factors. It’s back to those simple four things: exercise, diet, sleep, stress – they all interact with each other. And then you can start having a conversation about what you can do to improve your own health.
Medication has got its role. Definitely. If someone’s feeling too flat, they’ve tried the other aspects and they’re still struggling to move themselves into a better position, I think medication has got a role to play. But there’s increasing evidence that just having a conversation, actually just going and talking to your GP, in itself can be a prescription for making someone feel better.
It’s back to that whole aspect of, this is what you can do to make yourself be healthy – physically and mentally. This is what you can do for yourself.
Explore something. Change what you’re doing, because it’s clearly not working. And then you can get yourself into a better position.
Go on an expedition
In some respects, going on an expedition is often what people need. By that I mean, going on an expedition of nutrition or an expedition of sleep. Explore something. Change what you’re doing, because it’s clearly not working. And then you can get yourself into a better position.
If you’re feeling down, if you’re not where you want to be, talk to someone about it. If you’ve got friends or family you can talk to, talk to them, and you can always come and talk to your doctor. Think about your overall quality of life. Doctors are there to help you, to advocate for you and to give you support and options on what you can do to help yourself.
Find out why stress can be helpful, when it can lead to damage, and how to manage it. Dr Desiree Dickerson, PreKure’s Neuroscientist and Clinical Psychologist, shares facts about stress and tips how we can reduce it.
Use this mindfulness technique to take the edge off worry and anxiety. It will help you be more focused and centered. Try it now with Dr Carlo Bellini.
Resilience isn’t really about removing the stress and stressors in our lives. It’s about how we as individuals learn to deal with that stress.
What if we accepted that new challenges will inevitably come in some form or other, and that our exposure to them will in fact make us stronger and more capable.
We put 10 of the most common nutrition questions to Prof Grant Schofield and Dr Caryn Zinn. Here’s question 7: Do stress and sleep affect what and how we eat?
Here are Dr Louise Schofield’s 5 quick health and wellbeing tips for high-achieving women of all ages.
Learn how to get the best out of the health system. Dr Chris Reid is one of the instructors for our online course PK106: Medications and Navigating the Health System.
Help yourself, your family and friends or clients stay in peak mental condition. Take a look at our online course Mind-Body Medicine – neuroscience, brain health, mental health and wellbeing.