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Listening, informing, & supporting
Living with a chest condition and daily symptoms such as breathlessness, regular coughing, feeling more tired and being less active isn't easy. Feeling down for some of the time is a natural reaction as you adjust to life with your illness. However if you are feeling low for most of the time you could be depressed.
Some people are afraid to speak about their feelings or are afraid of what other people will think of them. You may not even realise you are depressed, especially if you have been feeling the same for a long time. This can mean that often people who are depressed don't seek help. However, depression is actually a common condition.
Depression is an illness that can be successfully treated, so it is important to recognise if you are depressed and to let someone know how you are feeling. If you have a chest condition, maintaining your health is dependent on you being proactive. This is more difficult if you have symptoms of depression or are feeling depressed. By addressing your depression you will quickly feel the benefit and increase your quality of life.
Depression affects your mood and how you feel about life – you may feel as if there is no point in anything. It can make you feel as if you don’t want to get up in the morning or as if you don’t want to go out or see family or friends. Often depression creeps up over a period of time.
Some common symptoms of depression include:
If you have any of these symptoms for over 2 weeks and they are affecting how you cope with day-to-day life then you should let someone know how you are feeling. Your GP or practice nurse are both good people to speak to as they will also understand about your chest, heart or stroke condition.
Try not to bottle up your feelings. It may be difficult to talk about how you are feeling but remember doctors are used to talking about emotions and are skilled at recognising and treating depression.
Treatment can include ‘talking therapies’ and antidepressant medicines. Sometimes a combination of both will be suggested. Your doctor may also recommend that you make changes to your lifestyle to help improve your mood.
Sometimes further support may be needed, for example from your doctor or nurse. Most people won’t need to see a psychiatrist unless their depression is very severe or they are suicidal. You may also be referred to the community mental health team for support.
There are different types of therapies which involve talking about how you feel. These include:
Depression is a very personal experience: you are the only one who truly knows how you are feeling and what you are going through. Different forms of talking therapy suit different people. It is important that you feel safe and comfortable with your therapist and that you can talk openly about how you are.
These balance the chemicals in the brain responsible for these feelings. There are different types used depending on your symptoms and medical history. Antidepressants are not the same as tranquilisers and they are not addictive. However, their use has to be monitored and they should not be stopped suddenly. If your doctor suggests antidepressants make sure you arrange a further appointment to see how things are.
Taking antidepressants does not have to be a long-term solution. Many people are helped through a difficult time in their lives because antidepressants allow them a temporary platform to stand on until they can come to terms with their situation. They are then able to cope better and move on when they have adjusted to issues affecting them.
Remember that depression can be treated and these unpleasant feelings will lift.