Coronation Street plot will help people spot signs of depression

Soap storyline praised by Dr Zahoor Syed, Deputy Clinical Director of Adult Services at CPFT

Coronation Street plot will help people spot signs of depression
09 December 2014

The latest Coronation Street storyline in which Steve McDonald is diagnosed with depression will help others spot signs of the condition, says Dr Zahoor Syed, Deputy Clinical Director of Adult Services at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Most days in my job, I see people with depression.

It is very common, and something that can affect anyone regardless of their background, their income, or how seemingly perfect their life appears from the outside.

But there's still a stigma attached to having mental ill-health. If someone has a physical health problem, say a broken leg, then they will be treated with kindness and compassion, and family and friends will generally rally round to provide any support that person needs.

Mention a mental health issue, then people often find the same level of support and understanding isn't there. Maybe it is scary for some because they can't see it and don't know what to say or do?

So I read with interest this week that one of Coronation Street's main characters Steve McDonald has just been diagnosed with depression.

In its 54-year history, Corrie has never had a character with depression. It seems quite incredible that in half of century of births, deaths, punch-ups in the Rovers' Return, relationship break-ups and everything else the soap has covered that the producers have never tackled this issue before.

But I'm glad they have. There's no doubt that when a show broadcasting to millions of people takes on a subject like depression it can only be a good thing for levels of awareness and understanding.

It will be interesting to see how the storyline unfolds, but one doesn't have to watch the programme to understand the warning signs surrounding depression.

There are several to look out for including a feeling of sadness that is at a different level to one normally experienced, sleep problems and loss of appetite.

Someone with depression may also lose concentration, feel tired much of the time, lose interest in the things they normally hold dear, and generally feel unable to function at their normal levels.

In the most severe cases, people can feel that life is not worth living and can become suicidal.

If you recognise those signs in someone else, have a conversation with them. Sitting down and talking it through can be the first step.

Try and encourage the person to go and see their GP. The vast majority are treated successfully by their doctor using medication or psychological treatments – known as talking therapies – or a combination of both.

There is a message of hope here. Only a minority of patients with complicated forms of depression come to a Trust like ours.

The vast majority of people get well, return to their jobs and to the important roles in their lives.

I hope the Coronation Street plot will improve the understanding of depression and will encourage people to address the issue, seek help, and get themselves - or those close to them - on the road to recovery.

*This column first appeared in the Cambridge News and can be read here.


For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Communications Manager
T 01223 726767

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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