BBC Breakfast: Dan Walker tells Brian Conley ‘goodbye’
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The pantomime veteran had a short stint on ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here but had to leave for hospital treatment as he was exhausted and malnourished. A short time after his treatment he revealed the true extent of his health problems which put a stopper in him being crowned “King of the Jungle”.
After the death of his beloved dad in 1998 Brian fell into a depression. In order to cope with this he started to take antidepressants which he was then on for the next 15 years.
Emerging from I’m A Celeb he revealed that his exit from the show was actually a result of stopping taking those antidepressants.
In order to help cope with his depression Brian also turned to drink to help him grieve for his late father.
Although he denies that he was ever an alcoholic the presenter admits: “It was like, ‘you’re a champagne bottle, you’ve been trying to push it down and have to let out those emotions and learn to cry. I hadn’t’, I was never an alky, but it was always there.
“It was in the corner, ‘let’s have a social drink tonight’, and I thought I can’t do this anymore.
“If you have anxiety, people always want to drink to relieve that flame, but that’s like putting fire out with petrol because when you wake up in the morning you will have much more anxiety than ever before.”
Being on antidepressants for so long but still struggling without them meant that the star still had mental health demons to deal with.
It was at this point that Brian went to therapy to seek help from a counsellor. Since then he has not touched a drop of alcohol for over 13 years.
He also credits techniques like mindfulness and breathing exercises instead of medication to help him tackle his depression and anxiety.
Brain continued to say: “To help me sleep and things like that, I do go through certain things I have learnt with mindfulness. Focusing on your body… it really is about breathing, staying in the moment.
“Anxiety is the future, depression is the past, happiness is right here, right now. If I wasn’t in a good place, I couldn’t do what I do now.”
As the NHS states, depression is more than a simple feeling of being unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people will feel down for short periods of time in their lives, but clinical depression is when these feelings persist for weeks, months or even years.
How can I tell if I am depressed?
Depression affects everyone differently. Symptoms range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness to losing an interest in the things you used to enjoy and the people you call friends.
Psychological symptoms of depression include the following:
- Continuous low mood or sadness
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Having low self-esteem
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling guilt-ridden
- Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- Having no motivation or interest in things
- Finding it difficult to make decisions
- Not getting any enjoyment out of life
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself.
Physical symptoms include:
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Lack of energy
- Low sex drive (loss of libido)
- Changes to your menstrual cycle
- Disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning.
If you find yourself suffering from any of these symptoms you can also try a depression self-assessment test which is readily available on the NHS and will assess whether you could be suffering from the illness.
Like Brian depression can be triggered by life-changing events such as bereavement. Other triggers could be losing your job, giving birth or if depression runs in your family.
The mental health charity Mind explains that many people often struggle when taking antidepressants like SSRIs with many saying that they make them feel worse.
A good and successful alternative are talking therapies, like the following:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Group-based CBT
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- Behavioural activation
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Behavioural couples therapy – if you have a long-term partner, and your doctor agrees that it would be useful to involve them in your treatment.
Mind stress that even those who are involved with talking therapies you do not have to stop if you feel better. Therapists and talking about any problems you might be having may be a long-term solution.
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