There's No Shame in Depression; Jane Gallagher Exposes the Myths Surrounding Depression That Leave So Many People Suffering in Silence

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), August 7, 2006 | Go to article overview

There's No Shame in Depression; Jane Gallagher Exposes the Myths Surrounding Depression That Leave So Many People Suffering in Silence


Byline: Jane Gallagher

THE large collection of smiley faces on the kitchen wall calendar caught my friend's attention.

"Someone's been working hard," she said looking at my children.

What I didn't reveal at the time was that the smiley faces represented a landmark achievement for me. They marked the days I didn't dissolve into a helpless heap of tears.

The previous months had many more sad faces on them. They marked the days when I not only felt hopeless but helpless and in the depths of depression. The days I felt I didn't matter, that nothing I could do could make a difference. The days when my young son had to ring his grandma because "mummy was feeling sad again". The days when I really and truly felt the world would be a better place without m e.

Happily, those sad faces no longer appear on my calendar with such alarming regularity. I am able to recognise the patterns of behaviour, which herald the journey down into a spiralling freefall descent.

The sad thing is I know I am not alone in suffering from depression. But I know I am fairly alone in being happy to talk about it.

I talked to scores of people while researching this article and only Gwen was happy to appear.

For depression still has a very strong sense of taboo surrounding it.

But, while it can be a pretty lonely road to walk down, it can be an amazing revelation too.

I have changed so many aspects of my life, my work, my relationships and even my food and diet in the six years since I started suffering from depression. Positive changes I know would never have taken place had I not had such a swift and severe kick up the back side.

It helps too when other people will talk about it. Just recently I bumped into the friend who noticed the smiley faces on my calendar all those years ago and finally revealed what they really meant.

And I can't say I was surprised when she admitted that she too suffered from depression but was too "ashamed" to talk about it.

I know that my depression will always be there just as it was for my father and my grandmother and will probably affect some of my own children in the future.

However, through my own experiences I know that it doesn't have to be something to tackle alone.

There is some good to come out of depression for the one in five of us who will at some time on our lives find ourselves fall prey to "the black dog".

But don't just take my word for it. Here, three people who deal with depression either professionally or personally have their say too.

Why healthy living can help beat the blues

WHETHER you're suffering from stress, anger or mild depression, exercise can help.

Working out is the easiest and most holistic way to improve your mood as well as your health says John Marsden, of Liverpool Active City

It will help you live longer, boost your self-esteem and generally make you feel happier and full of energy.

Exercise leads to the body's increased intake of oxygen and the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers.

It's a theory based on science. Research at the Free University of Berlin found that 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day for 10 days improved the mood of patients with long term depression, while researchers at Duke

University found that, over a six-month period, three brisk 30-minute sessions a week led to a greater boost in mood than a Prozac related drug.

Six months after the study, only 8% of exercisers saw their depression return compared to 40% of those being treated by drugs.

So, what form of exercise is the most effective?

Well, gentle, low-impact work outs like Pilates, swimming or yoga can help you cope with bleak moods by soothing both your mind, spirit and body. But if your negative feelings are the result of anger, stress or frustration, then why not try high-energy routines such as boxercise, Tae Bo or just jogging? …

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