Helping you get through tough times

Depression and anxiety

Welcome to’s Ask the Expert service

Through this service the team will be working with a group of professionals and experts with detailed and specialist knowledge of youth mental health issues such as anxiety and depression to antytytyswer your questions and address your concerns. The issues covered will be the same as those covered throughout but through this service we will be able to provide valuable insight into more specific and personal concerns that you may have.

Questions and answers

Each month we will concentrate on one particular mental health area and work, mainly, with one specific collaborator. Tony Bates from Headstrong was our featured expert in September taking your questions about anxiety and depression.

We won’t have all the answers to every question – but we do have access to the best available information, so let us know what’s on your mind by submitting a question here.

The advice provided through this service is not intended to replace face-to-face professional advice or any on-going support that a person may be receiving. If you or someone you know is in crisis now you should go to emergency support information.

Kevin says:
I have been feeling low since i was a child,wake up shacking all over feeling very bad.i find everything difficult,i seem to always have a bad feeling with in my head like a brick inside it.i always want to save money,see it grow,get angry also,i never been in a relationship,i am 30,feel my life is over concentration was always a problem.see people being say good singer at a young age i almost feel like killing myself,i could have been like that,i can not sing most of the time because of the bad feelings.i sometimes get scared around people in certain situation,lowness i feel never leaves,my head would drop with fear growing up also when people talking to me feel parents had no friends not much talking going on,giving out all the time,no options to talk to people,my dad used to box the steering wheel with his hand in temper if i ask him something,my life is finished,when will i be rich,when will i have the life i want,went to a clinic for 11 years did not help me,seems all over feel i want to die,even worry about dieing what will happen to me,in the next existence.

Hi Kevin,

Reading your letter I can feel some of the pain that you are living with for so long. Its amazing how you have hung in there and kept going despite the obvious distress you have been in. What do you think it is that keeps you going? It sounds like some things in your life still matter to you. Maybe simple everyday things, maybe a relationship with someone who likes you, even if this is not a romantic relationship.

I sense the fear in you also and how hard it must have been to be around your dad when he was in a bad mood. I know its hard to shake of the terror you felt as a child, and I know there is still a child in you that needs a lot of care and reassurance that nobody is going to hurt him anymore.

Your life has been really hard, and very lonely at times, but it doesn’t need to be this way forever. You can change and find peace in yourself. But it’s hard to recover from all you’ve been through on your own.

Maybe the service you were attached to a few years ago, could offer you counseling or a support group? Maybe there is an Aware group near where you live, or a Grow group. These groups offer free weekly support and the chance to meet others with whom you will feel safe.

Don’t be alone with what you feel Kevin. You have already started to reach out by writing this letter to us. Go one step further and look at what is available where you live and give whatever, whoever is accessible to you a chance.



KS says:
I’m hoping for a bit of advice regarding my 14 year old son.
He has a very low opinion of himself,thinks he’s very unattractive,believes his friends have a better time when he’s not around.He’s there with care and advice for them but doesn’t think he can ask the same back for himself.He thinks it’s his “job” to cheer everyone up but never lets any of them know when he needs it .
He absolutely hates school even though there doesn’t seem an issue with the school itself-I’m exhausted every morning when he leaves from the effort to get him there.
He had a phase of isolating himself and is going out with his friends again but he’d sometimes come home and be so angry!
He has a low tolerance for behaviour he thinks stupid,could be set off by someone simlpy being annoying.He would storm up to his room and start throwing and punching things,we have holes in his door and walls(plasterboard),he’d be shaking with rage.After “releasing” the pure aggression he’ll break down in tears,sobbing and then suddenly stop and be calm again;not happy but almost dead calm.
The relationship to his Da is strained,there’s depression in my side of the family and I believe in his Da as well,I was able to get him into counselling with the KYS,he sees a counsellor once a week since July but I feel utterly at breaking point with his outbursts.
Maybe there is something I can’t see,something I can do to help him….

Hi KS,

Sounds like you and your husband have been tearing your hair out with worry about your son. And I bet he is as confused as anyone about what he feels the way he does. Reading your letter, it does sound like he may be experiencing depression. 14 years old is a very common age to get depressed as lots of pressures from inside and from outside come together and collide. It can be a lot to deal with. The counseling service you refer to is known to be very good and at least he is continuing to attend there. Sometimes that process can make a person feel worse before he feels better. Its draws out of him hi hurt and confusion, and he may not like that. Hitting out is distressing to watch but it is maybe the only way he can release his pain. And while it is upsetting, it may be better than turning his anger and frustration at himself.

Congratulations to you and your husband for hanging in there with him. Its as much as you can do, and it probably means a lot to your son, even if it will takes years for him to be able to tell you that.

If I might suggest one thing, it would be to make an appointment for you and your husband to see someone who might just be able to help you make sense of it, and figure out an agreed constructive way to support your son through this.

This is a really hard time for the three of you. It’s nobody’s fault. This is just a lot of pain trying to find a way to express and resolve itself.

Hang in there and be gentle with one another.


John says:
I’ve been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder. I have been in CBT for over a year now and don’t think I want to go down the medication path. How longer do you think I’ll be in CBT for? I feel like I’m getting a bit better but having relapses a lot.

Hi John,

CBT is a therapy that usually lasts months rather than years. But if you have a good relationship with your therapist and you are able to be honest with him/her, then maybe you need to ask them about what you are both trying to achieve (what’s the goal of your therapy?) and how are you going to know when its working for you.

Therapy goes stale when people stop being honest with one another. Sounds like you have very reasonable concerns and questions. Why not take a few mintues at the beginning of your next session and tell your therapist how you feel, what you are happy with and what you are not so happy with,

Best of luck,


Sheila says:
I suffer from depression, i have no interest in anything,,in all i want to do is get help… Can you help me please to find a way out of this? its driving me mad

Ok Sheila, I hear your frustration with all this and that’s a good thing. Time to recognize you can’t get through this alone and that you need some help.

Your GP could be a place to start .. he or she knows what the options are where you live; Aware and Grow offer support groups all over the country and you could try their websites to see what they have near you. PSI the psychological society of Ireland have a website where you can identify local psychologists who see people privately. There are some books and website addresses that that might help:

Coming Through Depression; Tony Bates (release date – December 12, 2011)

This book is an exploration of what depression means and feels for those who experience it and his clear steps to help people through it. It is a very empowering book, making it clear that depression need never have power over us because we ourselves and only we have the power in our own lives. It is written in the language of the heart that bypasses the divide between academic and the street, a language that speaks directly to each of us. The book is written with a radical simplicity without being simplistic and with deep sentiment without being sentimental. With great clarity it offers us the gift of mindfulness and the role it can play in the acceptance and recovery from depression.

Beyond Prozac: Healing Mental Distress (2004) Terry Lynch, PCCS 2nd Edition

Sunbathing in the rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression by Gwyneth Lewis; Flamingo, 2002

Dorothy Rowe Depression: The Way Out Of Your Prison Routledge 1996 2nd edition

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem by Melanie Fennell. (1999) Robinson

Paul Gilbert: Overcoming Depression

David Burns: The Feeling Good Handbook





Hope this is helpful. You’ve made a great start. Keep going, you will get through this.


Alan says:
A close friend has developed a health related anxiety. Every time he cuts himself and interacts with people he fears co.tracing a disease such as HIV.
There is a hesitancy in his family to see a psychologist or mental health doctor as they fear he will be put on medication and develop other problems as a result.
Where could he go to talk to somebody without fear of being prescribed drugs as the treatment?

Hi Alan

Thanks for sending the email on behalf of your friend. It’s great that he has you as a friend to support him. When something is bothering someone and it begins to affect how they get on with others it’s usually good to think about talking to someone who is trained to help. I would like to assure you that it would be good for your friend to meet with a psychologist. Psychologists listen and help people work through concerns that they have. They do not prescribe medication. It would be possible to see a psychologist by asking your friend to get a referral from his GP to see a psychologist within the HSE. Psychologists also work in private practice and your friend could access one through the Psychological Society of Ireland by following this link It might be also useful to discuss some facts about HIV and how it is contracted. 

You can reassure your friend that help is available and talking to someone about his anxiety is going to make a difference.


Sorcha says:
I think I might have anxiety or depression but I don’t know. I was being treated for depression but it stopped so I had to try and recover on my own since then. I recently looked for help again but was refused it because they said I wasn’t depressed. Generally I am actually ok but sometimes I get very low (lower than ‘normal’ lows) but they wouldn’t last a full 2 weeks. Also I would get very anxious, even feel sick about things like doing messages or having to make phone calls etc. Do you think I could have depression or anxiety? If not, what could it be and should I have been given help when I was refused it?

Hi Sorcha

Thanks for your email. In situations like yours I would always encourage the person to look at what’s going on for them during these periods when you feel low. Does anything happen that could be a trigger causing you to feel low, are things ok with friends, how is your relationship with your parents or carers, how is school/work?

The anxiety you describe can be related to a lack of confidence in yourself and focusing too much on how you appear to others. It is important to work on building your self-esteem and this in turn can help you to feel more comfortable and confident when it comes to doing messages or making phone calls that you speak of.

Check out this page on anxiety, it might give you some tips and help you understand what you’re experiencing:
Also have a look at this page which talks about building self-esteem:

You have the ability within you to overcome this anxiety and this will start the moment that you begin to believe in and value how hard its been for you and how far you’ve come.

What can make a difference is that you find a safe place, a quiet place where you can calm yourself and talk about your feelings. The moment we talk about how we feel, our feelings start to change. If we are a little upset, ourtr feelings can change very quickly; if we are very upset, it may take a little longer.

Your feelings are not your enemy. They are simpley a part of you that is hurting and that needs care and kindness.

Be gentle with yourself, and find a way to calm yourself and to share what you are going through with someone you trust.


Marion says:
I recently returned to college and I am really struggling with the work load, I’m seriously considering leaving but don;t know what to do for the best. I left a full time job to go back to college but won;t be able to return to it!

Hi Marion,

thank you for your question. If there’s one thing to bear in mind when starting college/returning to college after a break, it’s the certainty that everyone will feel overwhelmed in the first few weeks. This is a significant transition, and in these weeks the entire workload that you will be expected to produce over the year(s) (however long your course is) gets thrust upon you and it seems almost impossible. It is important to always remember that you can only do one thing at a time, as anyone can, and don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to college work. Sometimes you will get everything done when you are supposed to. Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you will need to make time with friends or family, because without a break, you won’t have the energy to focus on the work anyway.

It is important to strike a balance between the work you have to do in college and living your life outside of this. This will get easier over time. In your thoughts about what to do for the best, ask yourself what it is that you want out of life, in the long term. Is whatever you are experiencing for now worth it for the what you might get out of it down the line? These are questions for you to answer for yourself.

Do try to find someone you feel you can trust and talk to them. Think about having a chat to the college counsellor, or the student welfare officer. They can be very useful contacts to help you get through the college year or indeed help you decide what to do next. Try your best to step back from the stress you are experiencing at the moment to get some perspective on it and to help you figure out what you want. I wish you all the best in your decision, whether that is to stay in college or leave and find a job elsewhere.


Ogunjobi Ademola says:
Pls, differenciate between depresion and anxiety.

Hi Ogunjobi

Thanks for your question – please see below for links to Reach Out articles that describe depression and anxiety.

Sometimes a person can experience depression and anxiety at the same time, and it can be difficult to cope with, but there is support out there and you can find some of these supports at the end of these articles.

I hope this information helps to clear up any confusion.


Gift says:
i recently discovered that am a depressed person and this had been affecting my social relationships, and i feel no girl can accept me because am not good looking.what should i do to change these thoughts which had been in my mind since my childhood?

Dear Gift,

Love the name. I guess some part of you either has a great sense of humour or maybe you feel that you have something to share with others, and you hope that one day someone will see that and want to be with you.

It’s hard when we have carried around some ideas for a long time, to start thinking in a new way. People for years were convinced the world was flat. Imagine how disturbing it must have been to get their heads around the fact that it was round?

With you have the thought that there is something about you that puts women off wanting to be with you. You want to change the part of you that feels that way, but here’s the thing. You won’t change it until you realize what that part of you, that kid inside you, feels. He feels really crap about himself. No one made him feel OK about himself. That is a really painful experience for a little boy, and what you are telling me is that same little boy is still alive in you. He is still waiting for you to tell him he is OK, to care for him, to be proud of him and to tell him he has what it takes to be a real friend.

Be gentle with him; he has been hurting long enough,


Lucy says:
— hi,
I don’t feel like im depressed, but there is a lot going on in my life right now and it is really getting to me! I’ve just started back school, and a few of my really close friends have been acting really strange, not talking to me, and ignoring me when they see me. I don’t want to bother them by asking whats up, but its really getting me down, I feel really lonely and upset a lot of the time. What should i do?

Dear Lucy,

Sound like a tough lonely place that you are in just now. From what you say, it sounds like a lot of what’s hurting you may be a lot to do with what you feel other people are thinking about you. That’s a really scary place to be.

I suppose one thing would be to check out what some of your friends actually think about you. Maybe you could take one of them who you trust aside and tell them that you’ve been feeling a little out of it lately and that you worry that other people may notice and be pulling back from you. I imagine that if you do this with a real friend, that you may get a different explanation for why people haven’t seemed to be as friendly as usual.

The loneliest place to live is all alone inside your head. Especially when you feel the world around you is a hostile place. Your words are your way out of the prison you feel trapped in. Talk to someone, and if its not a friend, talk to a college counselor, or to an adult you trust (could even be the college GP)

Don’t pull back from the world Lucy and lock yourself away. No one can live like that. Give yourself a break, accept you need friends and that you need to start by trusting someone and giving your life a chance.

Take care


Maria says:
I have a middle aged female friend who changes in mood, from talking and acting normal, to then just crying and she doesn’t know the reason for why she is crying. she has been to the doctor, he has referred her to a psychologist nurse but she has missed this appointment, can you give me any advice in relation to this? thank you

Hi Maria,

It’s great that you are there for her; friends are a huge help in times like this.

There could be any number of reasons why your friend might be having changes in her mood. One thing for sure is that she needs support to talk to someone who may be able to her to make sense of the way she is feeling. She also needs to follow through with the appointments she has been given but the way she is feeling that will be a big step for her. Maybe she felt ok on the day the appointment and thought she didn’t need to talk to anyone; or maybe she was frightened at the thought of having to open up to someone and trust them enough to say how she was feeling.

You could start by asking her how she feels now and see if she might agree to making another appointment and committing to going and talk to someone this one time, and deciding after that if she wanted to return to see that person, or not.

Aside from encouraging her to book another appointment, all you can do for her at the moment is be there for her and listen. Don’t underestimate the power of just listening and simply being there for her, without the pressure to “make everything all right”.

Just having someone to listen to you, who accepts you no matter what you’re feeling or saying, can be the most powerful thing to help a person sort out whatever pain is in their mind.

I hope your friend finds the support she needs to feel better.

All the best


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