Fearne Cotton has always been open about her struggles with depression, in a bid to tackle the stigma that so many women often face.
Now, in a new interview, Cotton reveals the symptoms that she experienced – and the warning signs that she wishes she’d noticed sooner.
“I had a real lack of energy,” she explained to the Daily Mirror. “I felt so drained and my lust for everything that I love wasn't there any more. I'm very optimistic by nature, I wake up in the morning and I'm very excited about my day, I'm so pumped and enthusiastic about the smaller things in life and that was dead.
“Everything was a drag and felt heavy. I felt antisocial, cut-off, alienated and they were massive warning signs. Everyone has that light bulb moment that they need to do something differently, but for me it was feeling stuck.”
Cotton continued: “It was definitely a relief when the doctor identified what was happening to me. It took it away from being my fault. I was prescribed anti-depressants. I decided it would get my head above the clouds for a moment. I'd never taken them before so it felt like it be worth a go.”
She added: “Letting go of 'perfect' was important. I was trying to do so many things and putting so much pressure on myself - and why?
“Perfect doesn't exist. I cut back a lot on work, and focused a lot more on family. My priorities now are work and family, so going out and socialising are non-existent.”
It is not the first time that Cotton has publicly addressed her mental health.
The 35 year old penned a piece about her depression last year to help it become less of a taboo topic – and to help pave the way to a better understanding of the issues faced by so many.
“There might be assumptions made that if you are on TV or have experienced a certain journey in life then you should be immune to depression or sorrow,” she wrote in a piece for Glamour, before going on to insist that this absolutely is not the case.
Cotton went on to explain that she now tries to focus on the small things in life, finding happiness wherever she can find it.
“I learned to embrace what I was going through, hold on for dear life and to find another way," she wrote. “To me the only things that make a true impact on my own happiness are who I'm surrounded by, how much I let seemingly stressful events affect me and how I spend my time.
“Simple pleasures like being with my family, getting out in the fresh air, eating healthy food and music are all small things that impact my happiness daily. For me it's all about those small steps in the right direction rather than huge leaps where there are no guarantees.”
Mental health is an issue that affects many of us, but women in particular can be vulnerable to issues: the most recent figures from the NHS show that one in five women in the UK have reported a mental illness in recent years, compared to one in eight men.
While the symptoms of depression can be complex and vary widely between different people, doctors have said that the most common is that “you feel sad, hopeless, and lose interest in things you used to enjoy”.
Other symptoms include:
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling irritable
- Finding it difficult to make decisions
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Low sex drive
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Difficulties with concentration
There are many other symptoms of depression and you’re unlikely to experience all of them at once.
Mental health experts advise that you visit your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks.
You can find out more information – including a series of approved self-care tips – on the Mind website.