Beating depression – a new column from author and writer Paul Holmes

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Paul Holmes – author of A Man Derailed: An Autobiography on Depression

Can We Beat Depression? Depression is a very difficult illness to control, you may say this is obvious, but do you really understand why?

Depression makes you see, hear and feel the world in a very different way. You are very reluctant to seek help, as this means you feel like a failure. You will never be open with others about it as you will not believe they can understand. If someone says to you,

“If you ever need to talk, you know where I am,” you know you will not, because what do they care? They made a genuine offer but the stigma of depression makes you put up walls, you want to hide away or worse you want to no longer live. Your senses become so sharp, any negative word or bad action towards you is exaggerated in your mind one hundred times over and so your reaction is to shut yourself away and just prevent any bad situation happening again.

The shutting away action means that these situations become impossible to deal with. Slowly over time you lose friends and contact with family and the downward spiral of depression spins forever more.

How can we reverse these vicious circles that engulf this person’s life? There is one key word that is also the hugest hurdle for sufferers to jump and that is motivation. If you do not care about yourself why would you want to help yourself?

The depression makes you feel like you are not worth it. It is almost impossible to find motivation to do good for yourself when you hate yourself. You are not worth the GP’s time, not worth taking up the hour or two with your friends to explain how you feel and the list goes on. How can we change that way of thinking? It is so hard.

We need to form an environment around sufferers to allow them to be honest and open about how they feel. GP’s do not do this, and how can they in the 3 minutes allotted time we are given? When you go to a GP, you must just go there with the sole purpose of getting referred to a mental health team. It’s not that GP’s do not care, it’s just they do not have the time to sit down and talk things through.

You can never explain things properly as they need to be winkled out of you by someone who is trained in these matters. You will more than likely be rushed out the door being made to feel you have just wasted your time. Another downward spiral starts as you have just been made to feel worthless and so the illness gets worse.

Depression is a minefield. Not just for the sufferer but also for those around them. I know my own depression has not only affected me but also my wife and family. I needed to find that one thing that would motivate me to fight back.

For me it was exercise and food. Exercise made me feel as if I was walking on thin air. Something in my brain switched on and all of a sudden I felt good about myself. I was doing something positive that for a few hours made me feel alive. I do believe that GP’s should be able to write prescriptions for gym sessions. The affect is enormous. Over time things become a little easier, the vicious circles spiral up and all of a sudden you become addicted to this feeling of, well, feeling bloody good.

Read John’s book, A Man Derailed –  his own account of his battle with this illness: 



Janet Street-Porter – why positive thinking can help you live healthier & happier!


London Watch this live WebTV show later today (14.15 GMT) to find out how positive thinking can help you, with Britain’s uber-moaner Janet Street-Porter, who says she is changing her ways.

Women are well known for our penchant for moaning and our attitude for complaining. Whether it’s the cold weather, men problems, work or general health, we’re used to putting a negative spin on things. And February is one of the worst months of the year for moaning. Yet, how can we get out of the habit of complaining and start looking at things more positively?

Small things like eating healthy or doing exercise have a huge impact on your mood, releasing endorphins that help fight pain and stress and help you feel great. And by feeling great, you have much less of a need to gripe or whinge and are a far more positive person.

Janet Street-Porter is the UK¬ís most famous complainer, but while she may be able to handle Gordon Ramsay and the jungle setting of ¬ďI¬ím a Celebrity¬Ē, she¬ís still definitely one to have a moan. On this live WebTV show she will explain what she¬ís doing to reduce her complaining this February and how you too can think positive.

Tune in to find out what the positive impact of a positive mental attitude can be.

Janet Street-Porter and Amanda Ludlow, Head of Sales and Business Development at Benenden Healthcare Society join us live online at Click here to listen to Janet Street Portertoday at at 2.15pm to discuss positive mental attitudes.

For more information visit

8 out of 10 UK doctors criticise Alzheimer’s treatment


London: Most doctors feel Alzheimer’s sufferers do not receive sufficient treatment, according to a new survey.

The IMPACT (Important Perspectives on Alzheimer¬ís Care & Treatment) study explored the views of 1800 people – physicians (GPs and specialists),1 Alzheimer’s carers,1 payors1 and the general public1 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

According to the new study presented at the 2009 Alzheimer¬ís Association International Conference on Alzheimer¬ís Disease (ICAD 2009), almost 8 out of 10 UK physicians (77 percent)1 consider Alzheimer’s disease to be undertreated in the UK.1 These perceptions reflect behaviours identified in earlier research by the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service which highlighted an uncertainty in diagnosing any form of dementia by GPs in the UK, with 40% of GPs reluctant to refer early for diagnosis.2

According to the study, supported by Eisai and Pfizer Inc, UK doctors feel the medical community hesitates in discussing the earliest stages of Alzheimer¬ís disease because of their uncertainty.1 Furthermore, 63% of responders from the general population, many of whom could be tomorrow’s carers, felt that most people would have difficulty identifying the early signs of the disease.1

¬ďThe National Dementia Strategy sets out a clear direction for dementia management and if adhered to closely, it could help the UK lead the way in Alzheimer’s disease care and management. Today’s survey findings suggest that although we are making progress, we still have a long way to go. Alzheimer’s disease needs to be tackled with the same force as the fight against cancer and we need to act now in order to halt this generational time bomb”, said Professor Roy Jones, Clinical Gerontologist and Geriatrician at The Research Institute for the Care of Older People, Bath, and Study Steering Committee Chair.

Alzheimer¬ís disease, the most common type of dementia, affects nearly half a million people in the UK3 ¬Ė a figure expected to double within twenty years.4 According to IMPACT, Alzheimer¬ís disease is the most feared disease after cancer in the general population,1 with physicians1 and carers1 being the only groups surveyed to fear it even more than cancer. In 2007, the annual cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease was ¬£11 billion,5 with dementia costing the UK economy over ¬£17 billion a year,6 more than cancer, stroke and heart disease combined.5 Additionally in 2007, Alzheimer¬ís disease research received 3 percent of the funds spent on cancer, a disease that affects a similar number of people.5

While the study revealed that UK doctors face a number of barriers to early drug treatment,1 it also showed that according to physicians in the UK, the medical community is more likely to recommend third party support (e.g. patient organisations) after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease than in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.1

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer¬ís Disease International and member of the IMPACT Study Steering Committee, said, ¬ďIt is reassuring to note that the benefits of support groups are clearly recognised by clinicians and hopefully experienced by carers and patients. We strongly support the tendency to refer to patient groups at diagnosis, as it is well known that seeking support improves the quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and eases the burden for the carer.”

About Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and degenerative brain disease,7 is the most common type of dementia7 and affects more than six million Europeans.8 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include increased forgetfulness, repeating or asking the same question frequently, and problems making decisions.9

These symptoms gradually affect a person’s cognition, behavior and everyday activities, some severe enough to have an impact on their work, social activities and family life.9 While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are treatments to help slow the progression of the symptoms of the disease.10

About the IMPACT Study

The IMPACT study was conducted online within the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany by IPSOS on behalf of Eisai and Pfizer Inc between April 1 and May 1, 2009, among 500 physicians (including general practitioners and specialists), 250 AD carers, 50 payors and 1,000 members of the general population age 18 and over. Statistical differences are noted using a 90% confidence interval. A full methodology is available upon request.

About the IMPACT Study Steering Committee

The IMPACT study was developed and implemented with the oversight of an expert Steering Committee comprised of a variety of leading AD specialists, including geriatricians, neurologists, epidemiologists, primary care physicians and old-age psychiatrists from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. The Executive Director of Alzheimer Disease International (ADI) was also part of the committee. Most members of the IMPACT Study steering committee received honoraria for their participation. The Committee was supported by Eisai and Pfizer Inc.

About Eisai

Eisai is a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Eisai focuses its efforts in three therapeutic areas: Integrative Neuroscience including neuroscience, neurology and psychiatric medicine; Integrative Oncology including oncotherapy and supportive-care treatment and Vascular/Immunological Reaction which includes acute coronary syndrome, atherothrombotic disease, sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.

Through a global network of research facilities, manufacturing sites and marketing subsidiaries, Eisai actively participates in all aspects of the worldwide health care system. Globally, Eisai operates in five key regions: its home market of Japan, North America, China, Asia/Oceania/Middle East and Europe and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.

About Pfizer

Pfizer Inc., founded in 1849, is dedicated to better health and greater access to health care for people and their valued animals. Every day, colleagues in more than 150 countries work to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to patients.
In the UK, Pfizer has its European R&D headquarters at Sandwich and its UK business headquarters in Surrey, and is the major supplier of medicines to the NHS. Pfizer¬ís annual UK R&D investment is more than ¬£550 million ¬Ė more than ¬£10 million a week.

1 Impact Study 2009: Global Alzheimer’s Awareness Study. Data on File Eisai, Pfizer Ltd

2 Audit Commission Update, Forget Me Not 2002: Developing Mental Health Services For Older People In England. Audit Commission February 2002.

3 Alzheimer¬ís Society Factsheet available at What is Alzheimer’s Disease?.
4 Alzheimer’s Society. Facts for the Media.
5 Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Annual Review 2007. February 1, 2007.
6 Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Dementia Statistics. Available at: Dementia Statistics.
7Alzheimer¬ís Association. 2008 Alzheimer¬ís Disease Facts and Figures. Available at: Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
8 Alzheimer Europe. Policy watch Europe Unites Against Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia In Europe: The Alzheimer Europe Magazine. December 2008;2: 9.
9 Alzheimer’s Association. 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
10 Alzheimer’s Association. Treatments Available at Treatments and Treatments

Married life helps prevent Alzheimer’s, says new report


Stockholm: The mental engagement of marriage may protect against the brain disease, Alzheimier’s.

People who have a partner or are married in middle age are at half the risk of developing dementia as those who live alone, says a study.

Getting divorced and becoming widowed in mid-life raises the risk three-fold.

The study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm is one of the first to focus on marital status and the risk of dementia.

Previous research already suggests that social isolation or lack of personal contact carries an increased risk of dementia and mental decline.

An American study last year found significant links between feelings of loneliness and the chances of suffering Alzheimer’s.

In the latest study, researchers, led by Professor Miia Kivipelto, interviewed 2,000 people aged 50 on average and then again 21 years later, drawing conclusions from three quarters of those initially involved.

They found that middle-aged people who live alone have double the risk of dementia compared with those who are married or have a partner.
Those living alone in middle-age and who are widowed or divorced have the highest chances of developing dementia.

They are three times more likely to develop diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as are people who are single during middle-age.

People living with a partner or married in mid-life were less likely than the single, separated or widowed to have dementia in later life.

The experts suggested women overall had less chance of dementia than men, but called for more research into differences between the sexes in a report in the British Medical Journal.

The report said: ‘There is a substantial and independent association between marital status in mid-life and cognitive function later in life.’

The researchers speculate that the stress of becoming widowed may play a part in declining mental functions.

Precisely what the connection is between being alone and Alzheimer’s remains an unanswered question.

But experts suspect that constant social interaction between marriage partners may keep brain cells in better working order.

Other studies have revealed that the risk of dementia can be reduced by exercise, a healthy diet and a ‘rich social network’.

The best evidence is around eating a Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly, and getting your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly.

Activity holidays boost mental health, say experts


Depression Awareness Week
, which aims to increase the public’s awareness of a very common illness runs from April 20-26.

The campaign is also aimed at getting us to focus on our lifestyles to make sure we are not only healthy in body but also in mind.

Spending time outdoors to improve your mental health is known as ¬Ďecotherapy¬í and it¬ís something that mental health experts believe we should be focusing on more.

This needn’t be vigorous exercise, beneficial therapeutic activities also include a gentle walk or spending time in the garden. Studies have shown that being outdoors really does have positive effects on your mental health.

Leading mental health charity ¬ĎMind¬í undertook an experiment where a walk outdoors was compared to a walk indoors. 71% of participants on the ¬ĎGreen walk¬í said that they felt less tense and reported decreased levels of depression.

With the unpredictable British weather and work/home commitments it can be hard to find the time and energy to spend time outdoors so activity holidays are being increasingly popular.

Choosing a holiday where the focus is on exploring new scenery and getting back to nature is an ideal way to ensure you are keeping active. You probably won’t even realise how much exercise you’re doing! An escorted tour is an option you may not have considered before, but it is a great way to constantly explore new surroundings at a gentle pace.

, who specialise in Florida holidays and Escorted Tours, feature a tour that shows you the ¬ĎBest of the West¬í, taking you through some of the amazing locations in Western USA and Canada. The tour starts in Vancouver and journeys through stunning landmarks including Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains.

There’s plenty of opportunities for those who enjoy rambling to visit new locations each day with the chance to spot local wildlife on the way. The tour goes through 8 national parks and you can expect to see buffalo, deer, bobcats and black deer on the way.

If you want to stay a bit closer to home, a walking holiday to Italy’s Lake Garda (pictured above) is also a great way to stay active while taking in the stunning scenery around you.
Thomson Lakes
offer great package deals to countries all across Europe, from the tranquil lakes of Italy to the dramatic mountain & lake scenery of Switzerland all with breathtaking views that are guaranteed to help you unwind.

Research has also shown that walking outside and especially by water can be an effective way of helping to combat mild depression. So whether it’s a national park and nature that will help you unwind or the serenity of water that will create calm in your life make sure you take stock this Depression Awareness week and look after you.