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15th February 2012

Ask Keir: Depression

This week Keir discusses mental health issues among students

Ask Keir is a column aiming to answer all your health questions. If you want to know about that funny looking lump that won’t go away, why your GP won’t give you those antibiotics or anything at all to do with health get in touch at: [email protected]

All questions will of course be kept confidential and anonymous.


Question of the Week:

Earlier this year I was diagnosed with depression by my GP and he gave me anti-depressants and arranged cognitive behavioural therapy. I’m worried about what my friends and family will think if they find out about all of this. I’ve got my first session in a couple of weeks and I don’t really want to go. Is it really worth it?

Thanks for getting in touch, I know that depression can be difficult to talk about.

To answer your question if your GP has arranged cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for you then it is worth going to. Although the name can sound a bit daunting CBT is a ‘laid back’ therapy designed to help you think about yourself, the people and the world around you as well as how your actions affect your thoughts. It can be as or more effective at treating depression than medication.

If you are still not sure, it is very much worth going to the first session as it is designed to see if CBT is right for you and you are comfortable with the process. The therapist will ask you questions about your life and background.

You will decide what you want to deal with in the short, medium and long term. If you decide they could work for you the sessions will then become weekly or fortnightly for 5 to 20 weeks.

I know words like ‘therapist’ can be off-putting but this is very different from the Hollywood view of therapy that we become so accustomed to in films and on TV.

Rather than concentrating on your life before therapy CBT concentrates on breaking a problem into its separate parts: the situation, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and actions. With your therapist, you will look at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours to work out if they are unrealistic or unhelpful and how they affect each other and you.

Together you’ll then decide on what the best next step is to change these unhelpful thoughts or behaviours. After each session you’ll go away with a plan of what you’re going to try and do and then come back the following week and talk through your experiences.

Coming back from depression can be an arduous process but you’ve done the hard part of going to your GP. If you need someone to chat to further help is offered by the University through their great counselling service which can be found on the University website.

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