Mon, 27 Feb 2017
THERE is a pause before the young dad sat in front of me starts trying to explain why he has come.
Words don’t come easily but his face communicates everything.
The pressure he is under at work, the fear of being made redundant, the guilt he feels about not being there for his family, the worry about managing to support them.
The cycle of sleepless nights, worse performance at work and no defences against the escalating general worry.
He knows his temper is quicker than ever before and he feels awful about that and the effect it has on his wife and children.
After a gentle prompt, he admits to drinking a bottle of wine a night to block the thoughts out and get him to sleep, but recognised he always woke up in a panic with four lonely and frightening hours of worrying to endure before getting ready for work.
Money worries and the strain the situation places on his relationship lead him to thoughts that his wife may leave, along with the children.
It is at this desolate time his worst fear always haunts him; he only has one way out.
But how could he consider that as dad to two beautiful children who need him?
Depression and anxiety overlap and are very broad terms for the vicious cycle of destructive circumstances and their negative effects on your internal world.
This leads to a trap, which can be difficult to escape on your own.
Many people are fearful of naming this situation, feeling that it is a sign of ‘madness’ or ‘weakness’.
It is neither mad nor weak to experience depression; one in four of us do at some point in our lifetime and denial prevents people from finding relief, asking for help.
This perception and actual stigma is something Brighter Berkshire’s Year of Mental Health aims to tackle.
Those involved have all worked in, cared for people or used mental health services and want to raise the profile of mental health, reduce the associated stigma and improve access to support and information.
There is plenty available in West Berkshire.
We are lucky to have one of the top-performing talking therapies services in England, which uses proven types of cognitive and other psychological approaches.
It’s a friendly, approachable service with advisers and therapists trained to help people with depression, anxiety and other associated problems.
You can refer yourself online www.talkingtherapies.berkshire. nhs.uk or by phone on 0300 365 2000.
Other methods include using mindfulness techniques – using meditation and cognitive therapy together – to slow the mind down and spot, then manage, negative thoughts.
The young dad made a brave start by turning up to see me.
He never usually came to the GP so I was a complete stranger to him – and reviewing him a week or so later, he had made small steps forwards.
As well as reducing his drinking and getting back to playing football, he and his wife had sought help from Citizens Advice regarding their debt and he was starting to see a way back to the person he used to be – more balanced and less hopeless in his outlook and capable of being there for his family.
This column is brought to you through a partnership between the Newbury Weekly News, the Oxford Academic Health Science Network and your local Health and Wellbeing Board.