Fearne Cotton has always been willing to discuss her struggles with depression in the public eye; since her diagnosis several years ago, she has opened up about the symptoms she experienced, the warning signs she missed, the medication that doctors prescribed for her, and how her life has changed as a result.
Now, in a bid to further tackle the stigma that depression sufferers face, Cotton has taken on a new role – and she hopes that it will help pave the way to a better understanding of the issues faced by so many.
The TV and radio presenter has been announced as an official ambassador for Mind, the mental health charity.
Speaking about her appointment, Cotton explained: “Through my new role as a Mind ambassador I would like to try and help stop the subject of depression being such a taboo. Depression is more common than people realise and one in six people will experience it during their lifetime.
“It was one of the most difficult things that I have ever faced in my life.”
She added: “I hope that by speaking out about the challenges I faced it might just help others going through similar experiences. I am absolutely delighted to be joining Mind and helping the charity to raise awareness of the many ways that people can build their own resilience and maintain good mental wellbeing.”
“We are thrilled to have Fearne’s support and know that her candid and open approach to her experiences of depression will empower many people to start a conversation about their own experiences,” said Mind CEO Paul Farmer.
“Talking about your mental health is the most powerful tool in breaking down the stigma that sometimes still surrounds mental health. Everyone has mental health, so it’s important for us to all play our part in changing attitudes as well as paying attention to our own mental wellbeing and supporting our loved ones.”
Earlier this week, Cotton opened up about the early stages of her depression to the Daily Mirror. “I felt so drained and my lust for everything that I love wasn't there any more,” said the 35 year old. “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 went on to add that she found it a “relief when the doctor identified what was happening” to her, because it took it away from being “my fault”.
She was prescribed anti-depressants and provided with a number of self-care tips, which she has opened up about in her new book, Happy.
“I learned to embrace what I was going through, hold on for dear life and to find another way," she wrote in a piece for Glamour, when asked how she personally stays on top of things. “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.”
Depression, according to Mind, is a low mood that causes us to feel sad, hopeless, or miserable about life; these feelings last for a long time, and usually affect our everyday life.
Psychological symptoms include:
- Feeling upset or tearful
- Finding no pleasure in life or the things you usually enjoy
- Feeling isolated and unable to relate to others
- Experiencing a sense of unreality
- Finding yourself unable to concentrate
- Feeling hopeless, empty, or numb
Physical symptoms include:
- Losing interest in sex
- Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Physical aches and pains with no cause
- Feeling tired all the time
- Moving very slowly
- Having no appetite and losing weight, or eating too much and gaining weight
However, while there are many signs and symptoms, everyone’s experience of depression will vary. As a general rule of thumb, 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.