Coming to terms with having depression can be difficult for many people, particularly considering there are a lot of misconceptions out there.
Author Adam Croft knows exactly how it feels. Having released three best-selling novels, buying his first house, and getting engaged, he says he was at "the darkest point of my life".
"The problem is particularly striking amongst my own demographic, young men under the age of thirty," he says. "At this age, we're programmed to be strong and manly. We go out and swill beer, party until late and generally put out the alpha-male persona which is expected of us. Inside, though, hundreds of thousands of young males are battling against their inner demons and living through sheer hell.
"I think there is a stigma, but that it's less of an issue than it was in previous generations," he tells The Huffington Post UK. "We've come a long way in terms of understanding. I guess it's largely down to education — there's still a lot of ignorance and fear."
DEPRESSION AT UNIVERSITY:
Adam, like many of those who suffer with depression, was afraid of being judged if he sought help, but he says it's important to highlight doctors will treat you with compassion.
"You won't be judged, which is something I was afraid of. A huge percentage of their patients go to them for exactly the same thing.
"It's not something anyone needs to know — I didn't tell anyone for three years and no-one would ever have guessed. It needs to be pointed out that it's very easy to get non-judgemental, effective treatment without needing to tell anyone.
"Nothing is 'wrong' with you, but if you're struggling to cope then there's help easily available," Adam, who has recently released a book documenting his struggle, continues. "For me, I didn't (and still don't) like using the term 'depression' or any sort of medical term as it just doesn't sit right with me.
"If it's difficult to word it, simply ask your GP if he or she would conduct a short depression self-assessment test for you. There are 20-odd questions which you answer (all non-invasive) and your resulting score is used as an indicator for treatment.
"Worth adding that I scored (I think) about 37 out of 40, with the only 'lost' points being that I hadn't actually contemplated suicide within the past fortnight. I was offered a mild dose of antidepressants (which were later increased) and given a few website links, so you certainly shouldn't worry about being carted off and sectioned on your first visit!"
With the help of Students Against Depression, we've put together 10 myth busters about depression. If you've got some more you'd like to see added, give us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Myth: Your doctor won't take you seriously
Truth: They will. And they will help you. And if they don't? Just see another one. Or call one of the mental health charities who will be able to offer you advice.
Myth: Self harm is just ‘attention-seeking’
Truth: Depression is a real illness with real symptoms. It's not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together".
Myth: You're too young to be depressed
Truth: You have permission to give the finger to anyone who says that to you. It's not an age-specific illness. It can happen to anyone and everyone, and don't feel you have "no right" to be depressed just because you're young.
Myth: Everyone will have to know
Truth: Unless you get it tattooed across your forehead, they won't. You only have to tell the people you want to tell.
Myth: There's something massively wrong with you
Truth: Yes, you're suffering from depression, but it doesn't mean you're not normal.
Myth: People will think you're weird
Truth: There may be the occasional person who doesn't react in the way they should - but it's probably down to sheer ignorance. People won't think you're weird, and if they're true friends, they won't treat you any differently either.
Myth: There's no way out
Truth: Yes, you may have some dark times. But it doesn't mean they won't end. Seeking help is the first step, and sometimes the hardest one, on the road to recovery.
Myth: You're alone
Truth: No matter how alone you think you are, you're not. There <em>will</em> be someone who wants to help - whether it's family, friends, your doctor, or the mental health worker at the end of the phone.
Myth: Self harm is just ‘attention-seeking’
Truth: Self-harm is an issue distinct from suicide – the inflicting of pain has its own purpose and is not usually intended as a suicide attempt. However, someone who self-harms may also think about or attempt suicide. It is a myth that people who self-harm are ‘just attention-seekers’ and not at risk of suicide.
Myth: You must take antidepressants to “cure” depression Fact: Antidepressants do not make you “happy” as such – they help to adjust abnormally
Fact: Antidepressants do not make you “happy” as such – they help to adjust abnormally low levels of brain chemicals to lift mood to more normal levels. NHS guidelines suggest that antidepressants should not be offered in the first instance for mild depression as other strategies may be more effective with fewer side effects. Medication can reverse some of the effects of depression, such as low mood and lack of motivation, and can provide the energy for re-engagement with life, socialising etc which helps combat other depressive effects. Medication is most useful when forming part of a combined strategy to tackle the various effects of the depression habit spiral.
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
Students Against Depression, a website by students, for students.
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41
Mental Wealth UK To join the community or launch a student group contact the charity on email@example.com