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We need to tackle depression at the earliest opportunity

Reema Battu talks about her own experience of depression and why she thinks research into the condition in young people could change lives.

Depression is dark, it’s lonely and it feels like you’re freefalling.

My symptoms first came on when I was 18 at university. It felt like there was a grey cloud over my head and but I couldn’t figure out why. I felt numb and didn’t care about anything, I just wanted to stay in bed all the time. 

It was a friend who suggested I might be suffering from depression and encouraged me to go to the doctor. The first time I spoke to my GP I was given antidepressants and I took them for about two weeks and then stopped. I didn’t take it seriously. 

After I left university I moved to Manchester. It was whilst I was living there that the depression returned. This time, the cloud felt even darker.

I felt alone all the time, despite having friends around me. I became a hermit and barely left the house.

I went back to the doctor, who diagnosed me with severe depression. He explained it really well. He told me that it’s not just me feeling sad but that it was my brain chemistry. He explained it’s something I should be taking seriously and I do need to get help. 

I was given antidepressants as well as counselling sessions. I was signed off work and started doing meditation.

My siblings and brother in law were so supportive and encouraged me to get back in the world again.  

Eventually, I moved back to London and in with my parents. Initially they didn’t get why I was acting the way I was and my dad used to get quite frustrated and ask why I was crying all the time. But they did their own research and my siblings and I spoke to them and soon they understood.  

I still struggle today but recently my doctor reduced the strength of my medication and it made me realise that actually, I am getting better. 

But still I wish I didn’t have to rely on tablets. I have to be careful, I can’t drink alcohol on them and it affects my social life. I’m worried about what happens when I go off the tablets – will I go back to square one? 

We need to find a way to tackle depression without it getting to a stage where people can’t deal with it. That’s why I think MQ’s new IDEA project has so much potential – the researchers are creating a tool to identify in early adolescence the people most at risk. I think this research could minimise suffering, not only those people with depression, but also for their friends and family who it also affects.

If this was around when I was younger then I could have got help sooner, rather than feeling ashamed.

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Last updated: 27 July 2018

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