Experiences of antidepressants

Getting to the doctor – seeking help for depression

People may feel depressed for a long time before seeing a doctor. Often it’s only looking back that they realise how long they had been struggling, in some cases for many years or even since childhood. Typically people seek help when things are at crisis point. It can be difficult for people to recognise the signs of depression, to know that treatments exist that might help, or to admit that something is wrong.
Asking a doctor for help with emotional distress can feel a big step. Gerry said the hardest part was accepting that he had depression and needed help with things. Going to the doctor was a positive step - he felt he was ‘tackling things head on’.
Some people are prompted to see the GP when a friend or relative has noticed they are struggling and suggested they should get some help. Max had had no idea at the time that his depression was so bad, but his mother felt concerned and drove him to the GP herself. When Clare broke down at work her colleague phoned the GP to fix an appointment, and suggested she wrote down how she felt to help her explain things to the doctor. Stephen’s colleague noticed he had been taking a lot of time off work which was unusual for him, and suggested he should go to see his GP.
Young people can find it especially hard to go to the GP to talk about depression. Lucy said that as a teenager she’d felt the doctor was there to deal with physical illness ‘it’s very difficult to go to the doctor and say ‘I feel sad’ because it feels like that’s the wrong reason’. She was referred to the mental health team as a teenager and prescribed Prozac (fluoxetine) but didn’t tell her parents because she felt they would disapprove. Sonia’s mother took her to see the GP when she was 16 and she was prescribed an antidepressant.
Stuart said that looking back he wondered whether, if he had seen a doctor and got help as a teenager, many of the problems he’d experienced through life could have been avoided.
(See our ‘Depression’ section for more information about experiences of recognising and being diagnosed with depression).

Last reviewed June 2016.


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