0300 111 9000

Mon, Wed & Fri 9am-5pm,
Tues & Thurs 8am-8pm

0300 111 9000

Mon, Wed & Fri 9am-5pm, Tues & Thurs 8am-8pm

People’s mental health is such a prominent theme with many of the people I look after currently. I’m not sure if it’s the post covid release of pent up stress, the awful war in Ukraine, the inflationary pressures (rising cost of fuel and food) we are all experiencing or a combination of all of these factors. Fortunately, it seems, that many people are more aware of their mental health and the impact that difficult feelings can have on themselves and their loved ones. In addition, people also understand that there is often support out there to help them cope better.

Clearly carers are in a special category where not only do they have to look after themselves but also someone who is dependent on them both emotionally and physically. Below I will set out what symptoms to look out for and what ‘you’ and ‘we’ can do to support you. Also I’d like to signpost you to my lovely colleagues at the Gloucestershire Carers Hub who will also support you: https://gloucestershirecarershub.co.uk

Below I am going to write about the 3 mental health conditions (stress, depression and anxiety) that I often see, either individually or in combination.

Stress’ is a catch all term that we all feel at times as part of daily life. Low level stress can be helpful and even motivational in terms of getting us fired up to get things done, for example preparing for an exam. However, it can easily spill over into burnout which is deleterious. Common symptoms and signs of excess ‘stress’ include feelings of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Recognising that you are getting excessively stressed is an important part of then being able to do something about it. Simple things to help you cope better include talking to someone, being more physically active and splitting up big tasks into smaller achievable chunks. I have attached a link for you to read more: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/stress/

Common symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe and include feeling persistently sad for weeks or months rather than just for a few days. Other physical symptoms feeling tired, appetite changes, reduced sex drive and sleep issues. Severe depression can make people feel suicidal where they feel that life is no longer worth living. Whilst depression is classed as a mental illness the cause is physical due to a chemical imbalance in ‘serotonin levels’ in the brain which we boost with anti-depressants which in my experience are very helpful in treating and supporting people. Counselling is also very helpful and can be accessed either on the NHS through cognitive behavioural therapy called ‘Let’s Talk’ or private counselling. For more information about depression, then please read: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/

Anxiety is a horrible condition where you feel chronically anxious about life and can, but not always, overlap with symptoms of depression and stress. Common symptoms of anxiety include feeling uncontrollably worried and ‘on edge’. Again, there are physical and mental symptoms which can range from mild to severe. Treatment can be very effective again starting with non-medical support and then moving onto counselling and anti-depressants (which are equally effective at treating anxiety). Some more information on anxiety can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/anxiety-disorder-signs/

If you are worried about your mental health you can do a simple quiz which you and your GP will find useful at it scores your severity: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/depression-anxiety-self-assessment-quiz/

So what can be done to help treat and ease your symptoms? Things you can do are included in the various links, but the most important factor from my point of view, is insight into your mental health as it is easy to ignore your symptoms. After a discussion with your GP you may decide to go on medication to help treat your symptoms. A common class of drugs is called ssris which many of the people I look after have responded favourably too. They take a few weeks to kick in and work by increasing the concentration of serotonin in the brain. We usually suggest staying on them for at least 6 months after you feel better. They aren’t addictive and can be stopped by weaning off them. More information: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/medicines-and-psychiatry/antidepressants/overview/

Patients often attend counselling with a professional to talk through their difficult feelings and develop coping strategies. Many of my patients find this very helpful either on its own or in combination with medication. NHS counselling if free and in Gloucestershire we are lucky to have the highly regarded ‘Let’s Talk’ service which offers a special type of counselling called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). For more in formation in counselling: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/counselling/

Thank you for the amazing love and care you provide often in difficult circumstances. Your stoicism never ceases to amaze me despite all the challenges you face. What ever you do, please don’t suffer alone and in silence. There is so much that we can do to help support you better.

As a carer you may be eligible for other support and benefits which the following link will give details of:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/support-and-benefits-for-carers/

https://www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk/en/doctorsdirect/news-and-events/news—list/news—details?Id=tips-and-tools-for-managing-stress

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