Where can I get help? (UK)

I recently saw Greg’s talk on developers and depression, his story was an almost mirror image of mine, struggled to hold down jobs, dropped out of University even though I had a first class with honours degree waiting for me in my final year.

Not long after leaving University I was diagnosed with depression, unfortunately my GP seemed to not take the diagnosis particularly seriously and seemed to think of me as more of a nuisance. I stopped taking medication after about a month, I found it made me dull, no longer able to be intimate with my girlfriend.

I’ve managed to get a PHP Developer position with a small company in the UK. It’s a great place, but the symptoms Greg described match damn near perfectly to how I feel on a daily basis. Unless it’s absolute crunch time I struggle to get any projects finished and I feel like I’m seeing/hearing the whole world around me and often incapable of focusing on work.

When I find something I’m passionate about I can work on it almost constantly without breaking, hell I even forget to eat sometimes.

But now I find myself with a problem, I live in the UK where it seems the only way to get help with this kind of issue is by going through my GP, unfortunately GPs in the UK don’t seem to be too concerned with mental health issues and I would be really grateful if somebody with experience of dealing with depression and ADD in the UK could shed some light on the options I have?

I don’t know if any of this really makes much sense, I find it hard to tune my thoughts into some concise points, I just really want something to dull down the constant firework display going on inside my head, it’s getting unbearable.

This may be a long shot (I live in the US), but I’ll give it my 2 cents. I think there are 2 components to the struggle most people like us have, lack of motivation/bad feelings (aka depression) and lack of focus (aka ADD or ADHD). Personally I think the 2 are often bundled together as one problem even though one could be independent of the other, or cause one another. Perhaps my experience is relevant to yours:

For me the issue was the lack of focus that lead me to get invested mentally in too many things at once that always somehow took a curvy road to a dead end. This went on for as long as I could remember, having so many things floating around in my head caused me to become overwhelmed and depressed. This went on for years, through college and work, I always attributed the bad emotions to me being lazy or found a scapegoat to blame, but as I got older, more mature, I realized that this was likely to be beyond my control.

When I finally acknowledged that something bigger was going on with me, I decided to tackle things on my own, without relying on doctors (I come from family of doctors). I did my self diagnosis, did heavy obsessive research on ADD and depression, and put together a plan of what I thought could help me. I was not fond of taking antidepressants as the emotional numbness that you described was not something I wanted to interfere with my relationships. I thought instead of trying to solve the 2 diagnoses at once, I could at least start with the thing that caused the chaos in the first place, the ADD.

I called the first psychiatrist I found on Google in my area, I told him my background, showed him my research and told him I needed prescription for Adderall. He didn’t even question it, and prescribed dosage he considered appropriate. About 15 minutes after I took the first pill, I had this whoosh moment where all chaos in my head got somehow organized in a sorted queue. After a few weeks I resolved all unfinished business I had without even making conscious effort to do so… And guess what, I felt great about it! The depression was gone. I would still have down moments once in a while… Whenever a down moment manifested itself, I would just stop doing whatever I was doing at the moment and go for a run. This may sound crazy, but running until I was out of breath really helped to forget that I was sad and it always worked for me. The bonus this remedy had was that it’s a healthy thing to do and I didn’t become emotionless dummy.

If there is anything I could suggest, try to tackle this proactively, don’t rely only on your GP to help you if he/she are too uninterested in your mental well being (as I understood was the case in the UK), try to find your own way out, you know the best what’s good for you. Take full control of the process, do your research, Google a psychiatrist in your area, go there even without referral from your GP and tell the psychiatrist what you found was wrong and how you think it’s appropriate to solve/treat it, back it all up with your own research. Alternatively call your GP and tell them that you need a referral, be firm and dismiss any questions doubting your position, don’t assume your GP knows what he/she is doing.

Sorry this was so long, I just thought it could be helpful for you to have the full picture. I wish you best of luck!


The main problem @jez_emery has is that in the UK the GP is the gatekeeper to specialists and you generally need a referral. It works the same way in Australia.

@jez_emery if your current GP isn’t taking you seriously you need to find a new GP. There are ones out there who will understand and get you the help you need. Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations, you don’t have to mention the real reason why, just ask if anyone sees a GP who is empathetic and really listens to them.

+1 for the reply by @supine. Switching GPs is a good first step.

I’ve dealt with a few GPs (it’s a group practice) and they have all been helpful and supportive - with the result that I’m definitely climbing out of the pit. (Big thanks too to Greg, whose talk at ScotRuby prompted me to try a few other options re. medication. It’s a very valuable and brave thing he is doing.)

So, I hope you’ll find that your first GP is one of the rare exceptions, and that you can start getting yourself back on track.

ps. take along a print-out of your original post if you find it difficult to explain things to a GP. It’s a pretty good picture of what it feels like.

You should also try mind - http://www.mind.org.uk/ . They provide access to reasonably priced (£40/hr not £150/hr) therapy without going through a GP. Other organisations to investigate:

IAPT - http://www.iapt.nhs.uk/ (ask your GP about this)
http://blackdogtribe.com (Ruby Wax set this up in conjunction with Sane)

Feel free to PM me, I am based in the UK.