Mental Health Information and Experiences Watch

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username861942
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Mental Health Information


Mental health problems are more common than you may think. 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our life. They can affect anyone regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity, sexuality. Mental illness does not discriminate. Mental health problems are not a sign of weakness.

Mental health problems affect the way we think, feel and behave. There is no one cause for mental health problems. Some of the causes include trauma, stress, social issues (e.g. unemployment, homelessness) and genetic factors. Despite the challenges, people with mental health problems face, it is possible to recover from a mental health problem and live a productive and fulfilling life.

This guide will give you an overview of common mental health problems, how they are treated, how you can get help yourself and dispute some of the misconceptions of mental health.


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Frequently Asked Questions


Am I wasting a doctor's time if I talk to them about how I feel?
Not at all, mental health problems can be serious and you are as entitled to discuss this with your doctor like you would a physical issue.

My parents/friends don't understand why I can't just "try to feel better". How do I explain this to them?
Unfortunately some people still don't have a good understanding of mental health issues which leads them to come out with what can be quite insensitive advice. One way of trying to explain it to them is to try and make them see it as any other illness such as diabetes. They would be unlikely to react with "try to feel better" in that situation or question the need for medication if a doctor thought it would best.

How long do I have to take medication for?
This really varies from person to person and also depends on the medication in question. Some medications such as diazepam are only generally issued for short amounts of time where as it is quite common for anti-depressants to be used for months, years or in some cases even lifetimes. However if you have questions or concerns about how long you are likely to be taking medication for you should ask the doctor who prescribed it.

Are antidepressants addictive?
Antidepressants don't cause addiction like drugs such as nicotine or alcohol. However on stopping the medication it is reasonably common to experience withdrawal symptoms such as an upset stomach or dizziness, these generally only last a couple of days to a week and can be mitigated by gradually reducing the dose.

If I tell a doctor how that I feel suicidal, will I be sectioned?
Not necessarily, if your doctor feels you are stable enough to be treated outside of hospital that is often the route they will take with admission being the last resort if it is felt you are a significant danger to yourself or others. It is important to note that voluntary admission where you and your doctor agree it is the best option for you is possible which does not require you to be sectioned.
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Common Mental Health Problems



Depression

Depression is a mental illness where you have a long lasting low mood that affects your ability to do everyday things. The low mood that people experience with depression is different to the normal downs of everyday life. They are more intense, pervasive and longer lasting. People with depression also experience a lack of energy, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, loss of concentration, disturbed sleep (either too much or too little sleep), eating more or less, loss of confidence and feelings of guilt. Sometimes, if the depression is severe, there may be thoughts of suicide or self harm.

There are different types of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression is caused by changes in the length of the day. It normally comes on in the autumn and winter months, and will improve when the days become longer and brighter. Postnatal depression affects mothers after the birth of their child. It can occur between two weeks and up to two years after the birth. Dysthymia is a long lasting, mild form of depression.

Depression is very treatable. One form of treatment is medication with anti depressants. These will need to be prescribed by a doctor. Medication will not cure your depression, but will help lift your mood, so that you may feel able to take action to deal with the problems causing your depression. Talking therapies includes a wide range of different therapies which can help you overcome your depression. One of the most popular is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). You can also use self help exercises such as exercising regularly.

You can read more about depression here - http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s.../#.Uu_dCmTV_PY


Anxiety

We all experience anxiety and fear, but for people with anxiety disorders, their anxiety is more noticeable and can make them feel as though things are worse than they actually may be. This level of anxiety affects their day to day life. There are a number of different anxiety disorders including Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Phobias and Panic Attacks.

The symptoms are split into mental and physical symptoms. Mental symptoms include feelings of dread, feeling on edge, problems with your sleep, difficulty concentrating and wanting to escape from the situation that causes you anxiety. Physical symptoms include sweating, heavy and fast breathing, shaking, fast heartbeat and hot flushes to name but a few.

There are treatments for anxiety. Medication can help reduce the symptoms. Some Antidepressants (e.g. Fluoxetine) can help with anxiety disorders. There are also Benzodiazepines (e.g. Diazepam), but these are rarely diagnosed long term due to the risk of addiction. Finally there are Beta Blockers (e.g. Propanolol), which can help with the physical symptoms. Another option is talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

You can read more about anxiety here http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s.../#.UvEUmkJ_t5k


OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is described an anxiety disorder, with two parts - obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind; for example, thinking that you have been contaminated by dirt and germs The obsession interrupts your other thoughts and makes you feel very anxious.

Compulsions are repetitive activities that you feel you have to do. This could be something like repeatedly checking a door to make sure it is locked. The aim of a compulsion is to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions. However, the relief you feel is often short-lived.

There are treatments for OCD. Medication can help reduce the symptoms. Some Antidepressants (e.g. Fluoxetine) can help with OCD. Another option is talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). If your OCD is severe and other treatments have failed, you may be referred to a specialist OCD service.

You can find out more about OCD here http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s.../#.UvEWcEJ_t5k


Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterised by extreme mood swings, swinging between periods of overactive, excited behaviour (Mania) and depression. These mood swings are not the same as the ups and downs of normal life. In a manic episode people experience euphoria (feeling excessively ‘high’), restlessness, irritability, racing thoughts, excessive amounts of energy, impulsivity and a reduced need for sleep. You may talk very fast and if the mania is severe, you may experience hallucinations and delusions. Sometimes people experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania which lasts for shorter periods and has less impact on functioning.

In periods of depression, you may experience a lack of energy, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, loss of concentration, disturbed sleep (either too much or too little sleep), eating more or less, loss of confidence and feelings of guilt. Sometimes, if the depression is severe, there may be thoughts of suicide or self harm.

There are different types of Bipolar disorder. Bipolar I involves manic, mixed (where you experience symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time) and depressive episodes. Bipolar II involves hypomanic and depressive episodes. Cyclothymia involves both hypomanic and mild depressive episodes.

There are treatments for Bipolar. Mood stabilisers (e.g. Lithium) should be prescribed to help level out the extreme mood swings. Antipsychotic medication (e.g. Olanzapine) can also be prescribed to help level out your mood, but it is also used to treat mania and any psychotic symptoms. Antidepressants (e.g. Fluoxetine) should be used cautiously with Bipolar, as they can cause mania. However they are sometimes prescribed to help alleviate depression. There are also talking treatments available like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and family therapy (especially when there is psychosis). Psychoeducation can also help those with bipolar recognise and prevent their mood swings.

You can find out more about bipolar here http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s.../#.UvKKAkJ_t5k


Psychosis

Psychosis is a term used to describe hearing or seeing things (called hallucinations), or holding unusual beliefs that other people do not share (called delusions). Hallucinations include seeing things that others cannot see, hearing voices that others do not hear and experiencing tastes, smells and sensations that have no apparent cause. A delusion is a belief that other people do not share. For example, you may believe you are related to the Queen, even when you don’t share any relatives. Some delusions are extremely frightening, for example you may believe that the government are spying on you and want to kill you.

You can experience psychosis for a wide variety of reasons. For example it can be due to having a mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It can also be caused by drug use, brain injury or extreme stress. Schizophrenia has positive symptoms including experiencing things that are not real (hallucinations) and having unusual beliefs (delusions). There are also negative symptoms include lack of motivation and becoming withdrawn. These symptoms are generally more long-lasting and persistent.

Another mental illness which has psychosis is schizoaffective Disorder which involves a combination of the symptoms of schizophrenia and mood symptoms such as mania and/or depression. Psychotic Depression is a form of depression where depression is accompanied by psychosis.

Treatment for psychosis includes medication called Antipsychotics (e.g. Olanzapine). This medication will help reduce the hallucinations and delusions. Talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for psychosis can help people cope and challenge their hallucinations and delusions. You may be referred to a specialist service for psychosis called the Early Intervention Service (EIS).

You can find out more about psychosis here http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s...4#.UvEa-EJ_t5k


Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (also known as BPD and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder - EUPD) is a type of mental illness called personality disorders. This does not mean that people with BPD have multiple personalities or that their personality is “broken”.

People with BPD may experience rapid mood swings, a deep feeling of emptiness, a intense fear of abandonment, an unstable sense of identity (e.g. not knowing who you really are), impulsivity, anger and thoughts of suicide and self harm. They may find it hard to make and maintain relationships, and may experience hallucinations or delusions.

Despite the myths that personality disorders cannot be treated, BPD is treatable. The main form of treatment is therapy. The main therapy is Dialectic Behavioural Therapy (DBT), which involves group work, and in some areas, individual sessions. Other therapies include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) and Problem Solving Therapy (PST). There are many others too. There is no medication specifically for BPD, however medication such as Antidepressants (e.g. Fluoxetine), Mood Stabilisers (e.g. Lithium) and Antipsychotics (e.g. Olanzapine) may be prescribed to treat individual symptoms.

You can read more about Borderline Personality Disorder here - http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s.../#.U1EO2_ldV8E


Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of mental illness where problems with food spiral out of control. People with an eating disorder have serious changes to the way they eat. They may eat far less or overeat. Often there is distress about their body shape or weight. One type of eating disorder is Anorexia. Those with anorexia, try to keep their weight as low as possible. It can make eating very distressing and they may have a distorted view of how they look, thinking they are overweight when they are actually underweight.

Another eating disorder is Bulimia. Those with bulimia, try to keep their weight as low as possible. They will often binge eat and then try to make up for the amount you have eaten. You might do this by vomiting and/or taking laxatives (this is called purging). You may starve yourself or exercise excessively to work off the calories.

Sometimes, people have elements of an eating disorder, or have symptoms that do not normally fall within the diagnosis of one of the main eating disorders. If so, a doctor will diagnose them with an ‘atypical eating disorder’ or an ‘eating disorder not otherwise specified’ (EDNOS). People with binge-eating disorder eat large quantities of food in a short period of time uncontrollably. This can mean you may be overweight for your age and height.
With Eating Disorders, it helps to get early treatment. Treatment mainly consists of talking therapies such as counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

You can read more about Eating Disorders here - http://www.mind.org.uk/information-s.../#.U1EO__ldV8E
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Suicide and Self Harm


We all want TSR to be a safe place for users to get support and constructive, helpful advice. We do not want anyone to get triggered or feel worse as a result of posts on the site, whether that would be a response to your post, or a separate post made by another user. It is for this reason that we have rules relating to self harm and suicide discussion.

Please note that our current policy is that any discussion of suicide or self-harm is not permitted, whether that's writing about contemplating it, or discussing methods. We also cannot allow code words to get around the suicide/self-harm discussion ban. It is important to note that this includes anything written in spoiler tags. Please also remember that posts that do not directly mention self harm or suicide, but imply or hint about it, may also be triggering for users.

The reasons for this policy are:

- We are not professionally trained to deal with serious, potentially dangerous issues like this. We feel that directing people to appropriate help is safer than posting on TSR about it.

- Often messages about these types of feelings end up getting replies which are at best well-intentioned but unhelpful and at worst downright malicious. We would never want someone to be made to feel worse for posting about their feelings.

- There is a real risk of both triggering other users and increasing dangerous behaviour by allowing discussion of self-harm methods etc.

We do not want TSR to be seen to be a site which encourages or promotes self-harm.

Unfortunately, moderators are not able to monitor all posts in the site all the time, and therefore we rely on the report function to help us become aware of problematic posts. If you see a post about self harm, suicide or something that is triggering, please use the report function to bring it to our attention.

If you have any queries about moderation, please make a thread in Ask a Health & Relationships Moderator, and a moderator will reply to you as soon as possible.

Self harm

What is self harm?
Self harm includes a wide range of actions and is defined as the act of deliberately causing harm to yourself. This includes causing a physical injury, neglecting yourself or putting yourself in dangerous situations. Examples include cutting, burning, head banging, taking an overdose, taking personal risks, skin picking and neglecting yourself.

Who self harms?
Anybody can self harm, regardless of age, class, ethnicity or sexuality. There is no stereotypical self harmer. In the UK 400 people self harm per 100,000 population, which is one of the highest rates in Europe.

Why do people self harm?
There is no one reason why people self harm, but self harm is primarily a coping strategy. Some of the reasons why people self harm are to release tension and distress, to punish themselves, to feel something and to ground themselves, to gain control and to express themselves. Self harming is not attention seeking in any way, infact, in the majority of cases, self harm is a very private act and individuals will go to great lengths to hide their injuries.

What should I do if I self harm?
See below about how to get help (link needed). Also look here (link neeed) for distractions you can use. The National Self Harm Network (NSHN) has it's own forum where you can speak to other users and trained staff for support. The NSHN is a registered charity which specialises in supporting individuals who self-harm and helps them to improve their quality of life.

How can I help someone who self harms?
People who self harm find it hard to express and cope with their emotions. They need a way to express how they feel in a safe environment. The best way to do this is to talk to them, and let them know that you are available for them if they need to express how they feel.

Suicide

Suicidal thoughts can be terrifying. They can bring up all sorts of emotions such as guilt, anxiety and shame. You may know why you feel suicidal, you may feel overwhelmed with your emotional pain, you may feel guilty for things that have happened in the past. You may feel that there is no way out. Alternatively, you may feel like you have no reason to kill yourself, which can be very confusing.

You may be very clear you want to die, or you may not care if you live or die. Suicidal thoughts can be confusing because sometimes you may feel like you want to die, but at the same time you are seeking help. This doesn’t invalidate your feelings about suicide, but this situation can bring about great distress.

Feeling suicidal?
Right now you may feel like no one can help you, but no matter how big your problems may seem, there is help out there for you.

  • Try talking to someone close to you e.g. a family member or close friend, and let them know how you feel.
  • You could make an appointment with GP. Feeling suicidal is definitely a good enough reason to make an emergency appointment, so don’t feel afraid to ask for that.
  • Contact the Samaritans. The Samaritans is a confidential listening service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can contact them by phone, email, letter, or by dropping in at one of their branches (branches however are not open 24/7). You can find all their details here - http://www.samaritans.org/
  • Contact Nightline. Nightline is a confidential listening service available at night. You can contact them by phone and a 1:1 messaging service. Their e-mailing service is open throughout the day. You can find their details here - http://nightline.ac.uk/
  • Try and keep yourself busy - try some of the distraction here (link to depression distractions thread)
  • If you are with Mental Health services you could contact your care-coordinator, or if you don’t have one, the duty team.
  • If you have a care plan, refer to that and follow your crisis plan.
  • Contact your local Mental Health Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team.
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How to get help

If you are thinking of getting help with your mental health, there are a range of options for you.

Your first point of call should be your GP. Your GP will be able to refer you to other NHS services including counselling, talking therapies and specialist mental health services. Your GP can also prescribe medication to help you. You might find it helpful to write down a list of what you would like to say at your appointment (e.g. the symptoms you are experiencing). A free website called Doc Ready (http://www.docready.org/static/client/index.html#/home) can help you with writing down a list of what you would like to say. You can also bring a close friend with you to the appointment if you would like some moral support. Your GP is there to help, and whatever you say, your GP has heard it all before!

If you feel that you can’t talk to your GP, there are other services you can access. If you are at university you can contact your university’s counselling service. These services can offer a range of different interventions including individual counselling, group workshops, and other therapies such as art therapy. If you are at school or college, there may be a counsellor at your school. The best way to access this would be to tell a tutor or teacher you trust.

There are voluntary organisations that offer support for mental health problems, such as MIND and Rethink. They offer a range of services including individual counselling, group workshops and advocacy. You could also attend a support group for people with mental health problems such as the hearing voices network.
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Role of Professionals


GP
Your GP is your first point of call for mental health problems. They will be able to prescribe medication such as antidepressants, refer you to talking treatments such as counselling and CBT. If your mental health problems are severe or if you don't respond to treatment your GP may refer you to specialist mental health services (e.g a community mental health team). GPs are also able to diagnose mental health conditions, but in complex cases, this will be left to a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrist
Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors who have done further training in treating mental health problems. They work in a variety of settings including the community (e.g. community mental health teams, crisis resolution and home treatment teams and early intervention teams), and also in hospitals. Psychiatrists are able to diagnose mental health problems and prescribe medication to help treat mental health problems.

Counsellor
Counsellors are trained professionals who provide talking treatments that aim to help people to cope better both with their life and their mental health problem. Most counsellors specialise in a specific type of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Counsel lord work in a variety of settings including university counselling service, GP surgeries, community mental health teams and hospitals.

Community mental health nurse / Community psychiatric nurse
A community mental health nurse (CMHN), also sometimes known as a community psychiatric nurse (CPN), is a nurse with training in mental health. CMHNs offer a wide range of services including counselling, administering medication and providing support to help people cope with their mental health problem. They often commonly act as a care coordinator in community mental health teams. CMHNs work in GP surgeries, community mental health teams and also, psychiatric hospitals. Some CMHNs have a special interest such as children or drugs/alcohol addiction.

Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists specialise in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions. They are able to offer talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT).

Child psychologists and psychiatrists
Some psychologists and psychiatrists specialise in working with children and young people. They treat mental health and behavioural problems such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They can also help children and young people come to terms with traumatic events.

Psychotherapists
Psychotherapists have a similar role to counsellors, but they usually have more extensive training. They offer a talking treatment called psychotherapy which is a longer and more intense talking therapy than counselling.

Occupational therapists
Occupational therapists (OTs) provide training support and advice and help people with mental health problems reach their maximum level of functioning and independence through activities and therapy. OTs work in a variety of settings including community mental health teams and psychiatric hospitals. They often commonly act as a care coordinator in community mental health teams.

Social workers
Social workers bridge the gap between mental health services and social services. They can provide advice on practical issues such as benefits and general support to help people cope with their mental health problem. Social workers work in a number of settings including community mental health teams and social services. They often commonly act as a care coordinator in community mental health teams.

Approved mental health professional (AMHP)
An approved mental health professional (AMHP) is a mental health professional who has received special training to decide whether people need to be treated in hospital. Part of their job is to assess people under the 1983 Mental Health Act, and decide if a person needs to be compulsorily detained in hospital. Being compulsorily detained in hospital under the 1983 Mental Health Act is also called "sectioned".

Care coordinator
A care coordinator is a role performed by a mental health professional (e.g. A social worker). They will work with you and other professionals to formulate a care plan and will then ensure that the care plan is followed. Not everyone with mental health problems will be allocated a care coordinator, normally care coordinators will work with those who have severe or enduring mental health problems.

Types of mental health teams

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)
A team consisting of a wide ranging multi disciplinary team including psychiatrists, community mental health nurses, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists and social workers. They will work together to form a care plan and, if you need one, a care coordinator will work with you to ensure it is followed. A community mental health team will also be able to provide practical support such as help with housing and benefits, alongside treatment for your mental health problem. You are usually referred by your GP if they cannot manage your mental health problem by themselves. Community mental health teams are also known as recovery teams, as they provide long term support.

Early intervention service (EIS)
A specialist community mental health team which focuses on the early detection and treatment of psychosis in those aged between 18 and 35. They work with people experiencing their first psychotic episode and support people for up to 3 years.

Crisis Resolution & Home Treatment Team
A specialist team which focus on treating people in crisis. They act as an alternative to an admission in hospital. Their work is short but intensive, usually being seen everyday by a member of the team. They can work with you to help you get through your crisis and help with your general well being. You can be referred by a number of people including your GP and a community mental health team.
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Treatment Options


Please note that different treatments will work for some people, but not for others. We give experiences of treatment from TSR members in this section, but please take these experiences with a pinch of salt.

Talking Therapies

Counselling

Counselling is a common talking therapy. Counselling is for people who are generally well but are going through a difficult time, for example, experiencing bereavement or a relationship breakdown. Usually you can only get a certain number of counselling sessions (six to 12 sessions). You can expect your counsellor to help you to understand how you are feeling. You can access counselling from a variety of sources including your GP, through a voluntary agency such as Mind, or through a counsellor at your school, college or university.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can help you to change how you think and what you do, which are both linked to how you feel. CBT looks at problems and difficulties in the ‘here and now’ rather than your past or childhood. CBT will help you look at how you think about yourself, the world and other people and how that affects your reaction to situations. CBT is often useful for treating a wide range of problems and conditions such as anger, depression, anxiety, PTSD and psychosis.

CBT is widely available on the NHS and is delivered by someone who is properly trained. Sessions are usually weekly and last an hour. An average number of sessions is four to 15 but this depends on what you need.

Experience of CBT from TSR Members

What is CBT? (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

CBT is aimed at helping you to help yourself, by helping you change your thought patterns, understanding your feelings, emotions and physical reactions to your problems. The things you learn from this you can use in your own time.

What can i expect from my first CBT session?

First your therapist needs some information about you before they can really help. They'll probably ask about your history, where you are now, and what you think the problems are. After that your therapist can start to help

Do I need to tell my therapist everything?

Everything that could be linked to causing you problems. As long as you are open to your therapist, you won't have any issues Remember that these people are professionals, this is their job; tell them as much as you can, because they will not judge you, they are only there to help. The less you tell them, the less they can help you.


How long will i be with my therapist?

From my experience they tend to only keep you on for a few months, but they seem quite happy to have you stay working with them if you feel you need it.

I feel exhausted or stressed after a session, is this normal?

Throughout sessions you will be consciously "battling" with your own mind, trying to change deeply ingrained thoughts and thought patterns. This can be tiring and stressful, but that's the nature of the recovery process i believe, it isn't sunshine and rainbows

What specifically will i get/learn from CBT?

An understanding of physical symptoms caused by mental issues. For example, shallow breathing, aches and pains, lightheadedness, and a sick stomach are all symptoms you can feel just from being anxious or stressed.

You will also learn a number of exercises that can help you relax and de-stress, these often focusing on breathing and imagining negative energy leaving your body. That may sound silly, but it does work.

How and why the thoughts causing you these problems are illogical, and how you can disprove them. Normally involving your therapist talking with you and trying to reason and rationalize, proving to you that some of these thoughts have no real evidence, and are actually fabricated by you. That can be very hard to accept all of a sudden, but again, part of the recovery process (imo).
9 months intensive on the NHS with a trainee psychologist. Challenging and at times painful, but ultimately very fruitful, as it taught me that I don't have to accept what the voices say and can talk back to them.
Still going through this Have found it very, very useful. It's hard work, and painful at times but if you stick with it and really work hard at in (in my experience!) it's totally worth it. Highlights the way you think about things and shows you healthier alternatives.
I was in CBT for self harm and anger issues, it helped - I was able to understand what to do when I was angry and calm down. I had a fantastic psychologist who was lovely so that really helped! It teaches you methods/coping strategies to have. ABC approach I think it was.
this time it was for psychosis - with the same psychologist (she really was lovely) and she taught me how many people actually experienced hearing things and that it wasn't crazy. We worked together to find coping strategies that worked for me. How to make sure I don't cause an episode, and what to do if I have one. It was really good - and helped if you're struggling to cope with the episodes.
I had CBT sessions weekly from the age of 13-18 through CAMHS and I found it extremely helpful. I hated the first few sessions; I was extremely paranoid, anxious and depressed; I hated leaving the house, as well as open spaces and windows. I didn't talk and didn't want to talk, but I eventually found myself letting a little out each time and came to enjoy and find relief in talking.
It's highlighted a lot of bad habits that I have for dealing with things and although it's still a slow, ongoing process, 3 years later I can say that I am getting better. Because my depression is linked to my sister's illness (a brain tumour which is very unpredictable and only gives a few years of inactivity before growing again), I doubt that I'll ever actually be completely free from my condition, but at least I'll be able to deal with it better.
I had compulsory CBT whilst in care some years later. I didn't reveal anything particularly intimate as everything was recorded and laid bare for anyone in social services to access and that made me uncomfortable. I did speak about a lot though and that helped lighten the mental burden I'd long grown used to supporting. It was easier to deal with day to day things like education and I no longer felt as insecure about the unfairities of my care.
My also learnt to control my anxiety. It's still there but I'm able to deal with it now.
CBT has helped me to understand why I perceive things the way I do and helped me to change how I view things...I saw life in a very distorted manner and cbt is brilliant at helping you to take a step back and look at a situation objectively and to separate your feelings from what is actually happening because how I felt often distorted how I viewed a situation and that led to irrational behaviours and horrible emotions but now I can step back and realise how I see the situation and look at it from a different angle.


DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a form of talking therapy designed for people with borderline personality disorder (or emotionally unstable personality disorder) and/or significant self harming behaviour.

During DBT you learn how to control your behaviour and cope with distress and difficult situations. You learn how to reduce harmful behaviours like self harm, how to help regulate your mood swings and also how to deal with relationship problems. DBT includes group sessions, and in some areas, you will additionally work with a therapist individually. DBT is a new therapy, and therefore isn’t available in all areas.

Experiences of DBT from TSR users

DBT given to people who have BPD helped me to be in the moment as I am very impulsive but now I can recognise emotions I am feeling and not fly of the handle instantly.



Medication

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are a group of drugs used mainly to treat depression. Some antidepressants however, can treat other mental health problems such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety and bulimia.

Experiences of Antidepressants from TSR Members

Fluoxetine (Prozac)

didn't make any difference to my mood at 20mg or 40mg but I noticed a difference at 60mg.
Side Effects:
(a) Nausea- for the first eight weeks I felt constantly seasick. :pain: It felt like the floor was moving up and down and it made me physically sick more than once. This did wear off though.
(b) Weird dreams. This wore off in a few weeks.
Pros : feel spacey and at times nothing at all emotionally (which I think I like) i can concentrate a bit more (a lot suprisingly) although my spaceyness and general weird feelings can be a bit distracting at times

Cons: Feel a bit tired. The distracting part of the spacey feelings. Stomach is in knots and pretty bad. When I stopped taking it for a couple of days had massive mood swings and felt angry and sick all the time and also easily distracted.
I am currently on 40mg of Fluoxetine a day. I've suffered with Anxiety for years, however it was only a handful of months ago that I found out what the problem was and what I could do to stop it's impact.
It does help reduce my anxiety but it doesn't completely stop it.
I have noticed recently that I have no motivation to do anything and I'm quite often tired to the point where I can't do the whole of my longest day at College. I also have to take my tablets one after the other or else I suffer the worst heartburn!
got me out of bed but stopped working just before my Finals at uni :facepalm: :emo:
I was on this for roughly six years from the age of 13. The dosage had to be increase twice until it started to have a better effect on my mood.
I ended up weaning myself off of the tablets when I was 19; it was effecting my concentration and motivation quite badly (which wasn't helpful while studying at university) and because I didn't feel right in myself - I felt quite robotic emotionally; yes my mood was stable, but I didn't feel happy or sad, to be quite honest I didn't really feel much.
I also put on quite a lot of weight with this medicine, which didn't help my virtually non-existent self-esteem and I suffered from terrible stomach pains and constant migraines; which were both bad enough to land me in hospital almost every time.

Citalopram


- Used for: My first medication i tried to help treat my depression.
- Pros: It helped numb my feelings, and lifted my mood a bit
- Side effects: Couldn't sleep very well for the first 2 weeks, that slowly improved in time. Was often tired, maybe due to not getting good sleep. Caused me some digestion/bowel problems too.
Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Used for: Citalopram wasn't doing it for me, so i decided to try a different medicine
- Pros: My mood doesn't drop as low as it used to, it helped stop my shakes/tremors. Makes my mood more stable, works better than Citalopram from my experience
- Side effects: Can make it harder to get to sleep, and it practically halves my alcohol tolerance. If i have this on an empty stomach i get terrible acid reflux and stomach pains. Taking it just before doing something that puts me on edge seems to make my panic symptoms worse.
I was originally on 50mg but was increased to 100mg. The sertraline helped with my anxiety slightly and lifted the symptoms of depression so I got my appetite back slightly and my sleeping went from 2 hours a night to around 4 hours a night. However, I have since come off sertraline as my depression has improved due to change of situation rather then the medication. The medication helped slightly but doesn't address the underlying problem.
The best one by far *for me personally, not necessarily for others!*
I was prescribed this a few months after I took myself off of the Fluoxetine, as I could feel that my symptoms were getting pretty bad again. I didn't want to go back on the previous medication, so I asked my GP if I could try a different one.
I am still on this medication and I'm fairly happy with how it's going. It's definitely less intensive than the Fluoxetine, as I still get bouts of depression now and again, but they are no where near as bad as they would have been if I wasn't taking anything. It feels more natural. My concentration and motivation have improved, but they're still not what they should normally be. The stomach pains are completely gone and my migraines have lessened, which is brilliant and I've lost quite a bit of weight after changing meds!
Mirtazapine (Remeron)

Low doses of this drug generally are pretty sedating but the effect wears off at higher doses. It can also make people very hungry, thankfully that effect has worn off for me by now. Since being on it I've suffered from bruxism (night time teeth grinding) but my psychiatrist doesn't know if it's caused by the mirtazapine. On the plus side my depression has lifted and I put this down to the mirtazapine. I don't get any side effects from it other than the bruxism so it's a pretty good drug for me. My depression hasn't returned whilst I've continued taking it. Withdrawal symptoms include severe nausea and mild headaches.
Prescribed to help with sleeping problems. Turned me into somewhat of a zombie.
Lifed my mood so much, especially at 45mg. This drug had the most (positive) effect on me out of all the ones I've taken.
Side Effects:
(a) Increased suicidal thoughts/feelings- not so bad and wore off after a few weeks
(b) Headaches- quite frequent but paracetamol/ibuprofin sorts them out.
(c) Makes me very sleepy when I take it but that isn't a problem. It just means I take it at night.


Mood stabilisers

Mood stabilisers are a group of drugs used mainly to treat bipolar disorder. They are also used in schizoaffective disorder and recurrent depression.

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics are a group of drugs used to treat psychosis. This includes psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. They are also used in bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

Experiences of Antipsychotics from TSR Members

Quetiapine (Seroquel)
Worked pretty well to quieten auditory hallucinations but gradually stopped being as effective so I had to try something else. Really sedating, I would take it at night and a half hour later I'd be out like a light. Quetiapine had some impact on my mental abilities, it made it harder to think things through but this was kind of useful at the time as I spent a lot of time thinking things which would turn out bad. I gained a little weight but nothing too noticeable.
As with most sedating atypical antipsychotics weight gain is very common, I gained 3 stone in two months. This medication caused significant mental dulling and suppression of emotional responses. Negativity aside it is generally pretty good in controlling psychotic experiences such as visual and auditory hallucinations, although breakthrough experiences did occur even at high doses of 750 mg per day
Haloperidol (Haldol)
Has worked very well to quieten hallucinations and dispel delusions. But I've also experienced a lot of side effects. There's definitely a fair amount of mental dulling, I'm not as sharp as I used to be. It also made my hands shake and I was drooling at night. I find it difficult to type because my fingers aren't as accurate as they should be. I also got horrible feelings in my legs when trying to sleep, it was like an AC current was passing up and down them. I take an anticholinergic drug for the side effects and that works well. I haven’t gained any weight on Haldol which is nice. And despite all the side effects, it’s really helped me so I have no regrets about taking it.
Olanzapine

Olanzapine is usually used as a temp drug because of the side effects/sedating effects so usually you're on it for about 12 weeks max (what I was told).
It was an excellent sedater! I was asleep within 20 mins of taking it at night, I was on a high(ish) dose of 10mg twice a day, however, I did nap nearly every day for about an hour or two if i could. It helped with the voices/seeing things during the day, but at night it was better but still hard - but like I said, it knocks you out so you fall asleep before you get too scared.
Side effects: THE WEIGHT GAIN. I gained nearly 2 stone in one year of taking it, I wasn't eating alot either - the same as my partner and she's stayed the same. It makes you put on weight like no ones business.

That was the only side effect I had with my Anti- psychotics, I've never experienced the mental dulling sensation people do, I was the same as I am when I'm not in an episode - it was really normal tbh. (Every medication is different for different people though!)
Aripiprazole
Stabilised mood and reduced psychosis - got me out of a major psychotic episode and helped stabilise me for the next few years.
atypical antipsychotic with some unusual properties as it functions as both a dopamine agonist and antagonist. For these reasons some people can find it very stimulating and it can significantly worsen insomnia in those who suffer from it. Caused me a lot of problems with akathisia and blurred vision for these reasons I was pulled off it by my doctors. It was actually very effective in controlling the psychotic symptoms however the aforementioned problems unfortunately made staying on this medication unbearable. Definitely worth trying as not everyone will experience the side effects like I did. Another plus is that it doesn't cause any weight gain!
Amisulpride
This drug has literally saved my life. I felt extremely sedated to start with and also had very blurred vision but these both wore off after about 2 weeks. Slight nausea when I eat (not sure if this is caused by it), also lactation, but not sure if that's not residual from the risperidone I took before it. "Drugged up" feeling (though I am on a very high dose) for the first 3 weeks or so, less now.


Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs used to treat a number of conditions including anxiety. It is often prescribed on a PRN basis (to be taken only when needed). However, this group of drugs are addictive so must be prescribed cautiously.

Experiences of Benzodiazepines from TSR Members

Diazepam (Valium)
Diazepam is really good at stopping feelings of anxiety. I used to be terrified of flying and would throw up at the airport I'd get so scared but now it's completely under control with diazepam. I get scared about parties and sports games but again this drug completely lifts my anxious thoughts and feelings. It can also be helpful for getting to sleep when paranoid thoughts are keeping me awake. Highly addictive so you have to be careful with it. I've been using it a couple of years as needed and haven't got addicted as long as you're sensible it's a pretty safe drug.
The diazepam was originally meant to help my anxiety/panic attacks during exam situations (A Levels are nasty things) but even half a tablet made me drowsy and I could barely stay awake. They were then used for my insomnia to help me sleep (I did talk to my doctor about this and she said it was fine to use) and they worked brilliantly but like any medication it only treated it for the short period of time taking it, it didn't address the underlying problems. The minute I stopped taking them I went right back to not sleeping.
This drug is like a big warm friendly contentness hug.
Clonazepam

Prescribed for extreme anxiety when I first went into hospital. They had me on WAY to high a dosage (was taking it about six times a day!) and it was more and more sedating to the point where I didn't know where I was/ who I was/ who any of the other patients were/ who any of the doctors or nurses were/what day, month or year it was. I also couldnt keep my eyes open and was slurring my speech. They had to take me off it. However, it was GREAT for the anxiety. But not a long term fix. Just have it as PRN now.
Good medication for controlling anxiety and agitation although unfortunately addictive thus not suitable for long term treatment. Useful for controlling extrapyramidal side effects induced by use of antipsychotics such as haloperidol. It does however like most benzodiazepines seem to cause cognitive impairments, slower memory recall and difficulty taking in new information was what I experienced.

Lorazepam

Effective fast acting sedation particularly during periods of agitation and aggression. Very good for inducing sleep, there were however some hangover effects the following morning which made me feel sluggish and at times dissociated particularly at higher doses.
Zopiclone

[QUOTE]Works really nicely for me, knocks me out quickly enough, but doesn't keep me asleep for too long.[/QUOITE]

apparently can cause a metallic taste but I've never experienced that, just sleep within 20mins no morning drowsiness or anything else. Good useful drug.
Short term it functions well in assisting with inducing sleep. However after 7 days of use the effectiveness declines noticeably & rapidly. Unlike benzodiazepines such as lorazepam it seems to induce a more natural sleep which leaves you feeling rested with no hangover effects. After taking this medication it is common to experience a bitter metallic taste particularly when consuming flavour neutral liquids such as plain water.
Usually quite effective at sending me off to sleep. It does give me a slight metallic taste in my mouth, and I think it might once have given me auditory hallucinations, but nothing I couldn't handle.


Other Therapies

Experiences of other therapies from TSR Members

Trauma Therapy:

It's very very painful, and very very hard. Still going through this and it challenges me so much. Best done with the same person each time, and in the same room (if at all possible).
Psychotherapy-
Note: psychotherapy isn't usually on the NHS, but it's used in rare circumstances in CAMHS. I was in psychotherapy for around 9-10 months (as I turned 18 so we had to stop). it was VERY hard. it brought up memories I repressed for years and years, and made everything out in the open. You were open to your sub conscience, which was scary. this worked by saying everything that came to mind, you talked about things you didn't even realise yourself. So it is very hard, however, I was doing it to find the 'root' of my psychosis, which helped because it discovered how the things I see/believe come from (presumably). It's very intense though, I went twice a week (some people go three times) you talk about alot of things, you might not even think about yourself. It does work to help you understand your illness, but in my experience, it didn't help with the actual psychosis, only to understand (sorta) why I experience to certain things I do.
Psychotherapy has helped me to overcome issues in the past and understand how they still affect me. I have been able to deal with quite a few bad experiences from my childhood and now they do not affect me as much.
Body image groups have helped me to understand how the eating disorder has left me with a disillusioned image of myself which is not real....I thought I was big at 6 stone but now I am able to understand that even if I think I look big, I am not actually big.
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Misconceptions


Written based on experiences and information provided by the NHS and Mind.

Misconception: Medical drugs like anti-depressants make everything better
Anti-depressants are not magic pills, while they can certainly help your situation they do not make everything perfect, in some cases it can mean trying multiple types to find one that works. Some people experience side effects however by working with your doctor with time the right drug that helps you the most can be found with minimal or no side effects.

Misconception: People who say you're just thinking negatively
It's not as simple as that. Depression is an illness and you should never disregard someone's depressive problem as just thinking negatively, instead you should help them focus on the core of their problem - or just listen. Listening can make all the difference. Many depressed people just don't have anyone to talk to so they build up the emotion and their problems. What seems hopeless becomes more hopeless, and you're stuck in a vicious circle.

Misconception: Depression is just a temporary mood
People can become depressed for a short while when something negative happens, but depression is an actual condition that can last for weeks, months or even a whole lifetime.

Misconception: Teenagers who say they have depression are just angst
No, (what would be diagnosed as clinical) depression does strike (a certain percentage) teenagers just like any other age range.

Misconception: It's there for life
No, treatment of it can in the majority of cases eradicate it completely.

Misconception: Just a mood, not a serious condition
It can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts (and from that suicidal actions), self-harm, lack of willpower and negativity - and the resulting effect that has on a person’s life can be huge.

Misconception: If you take antidepressants it means that you're crazy, or that it's weak to turn to medications, or that all antidepressants will turn you into a zombie, affect your personality, etc.
There seems to be a lot of stigma out there around medical drugs for depression. But clinical depression is an illness, and like many other illnesses, drugs can assist. They certainly won't 'make it all better' but they can help to 'take the edge off' to allow the individual to continue their life and hopefully take the steps needed to

Misconception: telling your doctor you're depressed/having suicidal thoughts will get you sectioned.
Telling your doctor will not automatically get you sectioned, specific criteria have to be met for this to happen and the decision is not taken lightly. Often some other solution can be found such as the use of the Community Mental Health Team or a Crisis/Home Treatment Team.
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Other Resources and Information


Mind - a mental health charity with plenty of information on their website.

Rethink - a mental health charity with plenty of information on their website.

National Self Harm Network - a charity to support people who self harm, also contains a forum about self harm.

Samaritans - a charity which supports people who are suicidal, or in distress. You can contact them by phone, email and by letter.

beat - Eating disorders will be Beaten. It's a charity to help people who have eating disorders.

MoodGYM - a free online CBT programme.

Depression Distractions Thread
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Hospital admission


Sometimes, people become so unwell they cannot manage their mental health at home, or with help from available services. In this case, a person may be admitted to hospital. In the majority of cases, those in hospital agree to come in, however, when a person is very unwell, or unwilling to come into hospital, they can be detained under the Mental Health Act (‘sectioned’).

What treatment will I receive in hospital?

In hospital you will have the emotional support of nurses, healthcare assistants, occupational therapists and other support staff. If you need to talk to someone, there should always be someone for you to talk to. You will see psychiatrists whilst in hospital and they will most likely prescribe medication to help with your symptoms. If you are struggling more than usual the nursing staff may give you some extra medication to help with this. Most wards have occupational therapy groups which can help you gain skills which will help you when you are discharged. Sometimes you will be able to partake in talking therapy whilst on the ward, however this depends on the area you are in.

What is it like being on the ward?

Whilst on the ward you will have a key nurse who you will check on you and who will meet you to discuss how things are going. The amount of activities on the ward will depend on the ward. You will also have weekly ward round meetings with your consultant and other people involved in your care. You will also be able to have visitors, but there is often a restriction on visiting times. After this, life on the ward can be very boring, so if possible, you should bring some stuff into hospital to keep you occupied, e.g. a book. There are restrictions on what you can bring into hospital with you, for example, headphone leads and lighters. There will be a patient lounge where you will be able to watch TV. Depending on your level of risk, you will be put on a level of observation. This can range from being checked on every hour, to having a member of nursing staff with you at all times.

Experiences of being in hospital from TSR users

***NOTE: I can only describe an adolescent unit- I've never been in an adult ward! ***

It's nowhere near as scary as it at first seems. :hugs: I promise you that much!

When you first go in, you should have an admission appointment where there is a doctor and a nurse present and you will discuss with them your illness, why you think you're there, if there's any history of mental illness in the family etc (if you've ever been to a CAMHS appointment- it's like the questions they ask you on your first appointment!). Your parents can be present with you while this happens if you want. Then the doctor will give you a quick once over (pulse, reflexes etc. ) and you may have to give a blood/urine sample. Don't worry though- they do it to everyone who comes in! Then (most likely) you'll be shown to your room. A member of staff will go through your stuff (and they check EVERYWHERE) and make sure you haven't got anything you could hurt yourself/others with.

There will be around six to ten patients on each ward and there will be two/three/four wards (for example, the hospital I'm in has three wards of eight patients). You should have your own bedroom (very basic- bed, wardrobe, chair, drawers) and you're allowed to personalise. You can bring in pictures, posters, blankets (I have a brilliant furry one ) and teddies/keepsakes. You might have your own bathroom (with a shower, a sink and a toilet). There may or may not be a communal bathroom depending on what ward/unit you're in. There will most likely be a communal sitting area with a TV/board games/arts and crafts and chairs (comfy ones where I am!) to sit in. There will also be a communal dining area where everyone eats (sometimes people with eating disorders can sit with meals in a seperate room if it's easier for them or if they're doing meal time management or the likes, but generally people are encouraged to eat in the dining room. ). You get a choice of food (think school dinners! ), but you are expected to eat at every meal. (sometimes if you're on an eating plan you dont get a choice of what you eat, but you are allowed a couple of dislikes (it all gets discussed with the dietician)).

There will be some sort of school/college you can (and must if you're under 16!) attend depending on if you're well enough. This tends to be very small, with a lot of one on one time with the teacher. You also (in my experience) get lots of other non-acedemic classes like teambuilding, arts and crafts and gardening/outdoor ed.

There tends to be lots of groups running in the evenings, organised either by the ward staff or by the Occupational Therapists. Examples of groups that run at the unit I'm in were girls group, boys group, baking group, art group, horseriding group, lunch club, knitting group, swimming group and communal meal. There are also groups on during the day, like DBT group, relaxation group and post-lunch support group (for patients with eating disorders).

While in the unit, you will work with nurses, psychiatrists and support workers, and you could also work with social workers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and dieticians. You should have a main nurse (we call it a named nurse) who is kind of in charge of your care. They check in with you regularly and help you with any specific issues you have (although you can tell any member of staff anything ).

Hospital can be VERY boring- especially if you're in on the weekends (most people are when you're first addmitted). Seriously- take your knitting! Sometimes, activities and trips out are organised for the weekends/school holidays. Things like going to tescos/ the park/ swimming/ the cinema. But it really depends where you are/ what staff are on/ how many staff are on/ what money there is/ how unwell you are. In about seven months, I've been out with them once.

Every so often you have things called reviews (I think it's supposed to be every six weeks?). This is where all the professionals involved in your care come together to discuss your case and put forward what they think the next steps should be. Usually, your school, your CAMHS team in the community, your parents and you are also invited, but may not be present for the whole discussion.

In the unit I'm in, there's no internet access or mobile phones with internet/cameras. They do allow phones without this though, and they actually have a couple of spare ones for people to put their sims into (those with microsims need an adaptor!). There is also a ward phone (landline) you can use for free to call home/friends etc.
I was in an adolescent hospital as I was 17 at the time, It was a building separate from the main hospital so it wasn't a ward as such. I was on a mixed ward of about 8-10 rooms. I had my own room where I had a bed, wardrobes, desk, bed side table and my own bathroom (consisting of a toilet and a shower) it was nice enough.
the ward itself, had a T.V room, a games room, a chill out room, a computer space and an arts and craft room. The nursing desk was in the center, there was also a room for visitors and nurses/doctors to meet with you in there.
There was a outside space which had a football court and a basketball court.
You were made to have a blood test and a pee test, ECG, physical check just to see how you were.
We had a school dinner type system where we went into the 'dining' place and chose out of around 3 options - there was always nurses/assistants in there with you watching everyone eat, there was also another room for supervised eating. you had a choice of dessert if you wanted it.

You were woken up in the morning for breakfast (Around 7) then after that you had some chill out time, then you HAD to go to school and learn things (even if you're not at college/in college), there was other activities like music and arts. You then had a session with whomever you were seeing that day (psychologists, nurse, doctor etc) then you were free to do whatever. Vistors were 3-8 on the week days and 11 - 8 on the weekends (most people went home then though). Dinner then bed really. It was very boring but I read alot and revised (as I had my A level exams in a month or so during this time)
In my experience, I was taken off the drugs I was on (an anti psychotic) to see myself in a 'true' form. I had a very bad time, I had episodes every night and wouldn't sleep. Saying this, the nurses were fantastic! they check on your every hour or so, and there's always someone to talk too. When I had episodes, they'd stay with me for hours, just making sure I wasn't doing anything stupid. It was nice to have such supportive staff.
We wasn't allowed any phones at all. This was very hard, however in some cases they'd allow you to sit on your own in a specific room to listen to music.

I, myself, didn't enjoy/like my experience there at all - it didn't help directly. However, I did see how it can benefit people, and I found myself realising - I don't want to be here. I want to be better, I don't want to kill myself or harm myself. I can get better and carry on in a 'normal life' so yeah it's really good in making you want to recover.
The actual place is very safe, in which there is hardly any ways to hurt yourself - the shower/taps is a timed ones where it turns off and is a certain temperature. The knobs on the door are specially shaped so it's hard to hurt yourself on them. They search your stuff (not too intrusive) to make sure you don't have anything to hurt anyone. Everyone there wants you to get better, and survive. It's quite nice atmosphere (in a sense).
Nurses are truly the backbone of hospitals. It was the nurses who had to force-feed me....it was them who had to restrain me from hurting myself yet they are the ones who also support you and talk to you and help you to understand why...they are the ones who take you out shopping when you are getting better, they fight in your corner when you are in the right and even the male nurses are amazing and will do anything to cheer you like wear silly toupees in john lewis or play pool with you and dry your tears and if it was not for the nurses and the care workers I would not be alive, walking and better now...they put up with so much from the patients and it hurts them to do it but one said to me that, it's hard when people come in but when you see them better it gives them a sense of pride and happiness that they were able to help.
I stayed on a psychiatric ward for two months. I went in voluntarily, under the advice of my GP, as I was suicidal and at high risk of following through with it. She sent me to A&E, where (after a wait of several hours) I was seen by a psychiatrist who asked me various questions about how I was feeling and why I was going into hospital, and then I was sent over to the ward where I'd be staying.

Once I was there I got asked more questions about how I was feeling and about my circumstances (I think my files had been mislaid), and also given a brief physical examination - I think they just took my blood pressure and heart rate. Then since it was the middle of the night they showed me my room and I went to sleep.

I didn't leave my room much over the course of the next few days, but eventually when I did I found the layout of the ward was like this: there were several corridors with bedrooms and bathrooms off of them, two corridors being single-sex the other one mixed. You got a bedroom each and the bathrooms were between every two people, with a shower and toilet in them. There was also a sink in each of the rooms. Apart from that there was a small kitchen where you could make tea or coffee, a staff kitchen you weren't allowed in, a dining room which also had vending machines, two TV rooms also with a bookshelf, the IPAS room (no idea what that stood for, but it was basically just an activities room where you could do various arts and crafts and there was one computer you could use with internet), and in the middle of everything was an office where there were always a few staff posted. There was also a dispensary where you got your medication, a small room for doing physical examinations, two gardens where you could go and smoke (I assume I would have been allowed in them, but I actually never tried going or asking if I was allowed), and a couple of other rooms which had no particular purpose.

My general experiences: I think I was quite lucky with the ward I ended up on. It was boring as hell, but there were at least a few things you could do to occupy yourself, like arts and crafts or you could usually get on the computer for half an hour to an hour every day or so. There were also organised activities like an exercise class. The food was standard hospital fare, so not especially enticing, but not completely inedible either. I didn't speak much to the other patients, but I gathered that they were a mix of people who'd been sectioned and voluntary patients like myself. The nurses were generally quite nice, each patient had a named nurse who was the person you were supposed to go to if you were having problems.

I was listed as 1:15, which meant someone had to check up on me every 15 minutes. If you were on a 1:1 it meant there was someone with you constantly. Violent patients were either on a 1:1 or were put on a separate ward. I saw the doctors once a week, who reviewed my medication and checked how my mood was doing. There were no psychologists or therapists on the ward, but if you were seeing someone outside of the hospital then they could arrange for you to be transported.

A week before I was released from hospital I was allowed home for the weekend to see how I'd cope. Since it went alright they discharged me permanently. I probably could have got out a lot sooner than the two months I spent in there, but at that time I was so indifferent to my surroundings that I made no attempt to leave.

Despite certainly not enjoying my time in hospital, I do still think it was a positive experience, since it did what it was intended to - keep me out of harm's way until I was no longer a danger to myself.
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Getting help for Mental Health Issues at University


  • Reach out for help at the earliest opportunity.
  • Go and see a doctor if you can. Yes it will be scary and yes your head might be screaming at you not to, but in the long run, thats the way you're going to get the most support, be it medications, therapy, whatever - plus if you end up needing an extension or extenuating circumstances you will most likely be asked to see a doctor anyway.
  • Take advantage of the help provided by the university - counselling, therapy, support groups. The NHS has giant waiting lists and private is pricey, so when we're talking about a couple month long semester, it really does come in handy.
  • Tell your personal tutor, module organiser, studies advisor, whoever is the person that looks out for you and your studies as soon as you feel comfortable, tell them as much as you can and give them regular updates. Having a good relationship with them could prove very helpful if you need an extension/miss an exam/need to defer for a year.
  • Have a friend who knows a decent chunk of information, not only is a problem shared a problem halved, but if worst comes to worst, if something happens to you or you do something to yourself, you will have somebody there who will have a bit of an idea and will be able to calm everybody down and add some clarity to the situation (they also act as a handy advocate for a night in if you don't fancy going out one evening)
  • Acknowledge your ability and shortcomings.
  • If an essay is due next week and you're in a depressive episode unable to get out of bed, then get an extension. Don't push yourself and make your mental health worse by trying to force yourself - it's not worth it.
  • Don't leave everything until the last minute - you won't do yourself any good wired up on red bull and pulling all nighters.
  • Don't feel guilty for not studying 24/7. Your down time can count just as much towards your grades as your study time.
  • Stock up on some supplies to keep in your room - tea/coffee/squash, nonperishable food, microwaveable food, dvds, books, blankets - if you're in a place where you don't feel up to interacting with people, having everything you need to just have a bit of a mental health day can be exactly what you need to push yourself through the rough patch.
  • Draw up a life timetable - I've never been one to timetable my academics, but I do timetable the rest of my life - its much easier to take breaks and have afternoons off and such to do stuff that you enjoy doing when they've always been in the works and aren't spontaneous.
  • Write everything down, i.e deadlines, when/where all of your lectures are. I don't know about you, but when I'm in a really bad patch, I have the memory span of a flea.
  • Understand and get your mind over the idea that you won't always be the best. A lot of us at uni will have come from a class where quite often we were very good at the topic and we were used to being towards the top of the class. Accept that that will be the situation for everybody in your year, and not everybody can come at the top of the class all the time. As long as you did as much as you could, try and accept that.
  • Always be open to trying different study techniques/methods, you never know what you will discover.
  • Push your boundaries.


Thanks to: The_Lonely_Goatherd, Sabertooth, team_mcdreamy, snowflake and James for putting this information together.
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