Helping you get through tough times



Dr Helen Keely was our featured expert and answered your questions about depression and anxiety.

Aileen says: my 5 year old daughter is our eldest child, she has always been very slow to make on people as in, if she went into a strange room, she would weigh up the suitation before she would make on anyone, but would have it all sussed out well.
she started NS this sept., and is very happy there, she runs into school in the morning and has plenty off friends in school, but my only issue is she has to go to the crèche one afternoon PW as my childminder is unable to collect her this day, she went to this crèche for her free play school year, and 2 off the teachers that she would have known, are on leave. but the girls say that once she goes in there in the evening, she will be saying that she has a sick belly etc., and will mamy be soon here. I do explain to here that I will be collecting you , and I always come back for you etc., just don’t know what to do? how do I reassure her? or is that its just the one afternoon PW that’s confussing her?

Hi Aileen,

I would recommend speaking with your daughter about how she feels about the creche. You can do this at a time when she is relaxed and you are on your own. Sometimes just before going to sleep or in the car can be good or if you are doing something like baking or colouring. It can help by saying that you know a girl who sometimes feels shy or worried when she is in some places and did she ever feel like that? Five is very young but if you create a safe space without too much pressure for your daughter to open up she should be able to say how she is feeling in this environment. It may be worthwhile asking her if she feels this way when she is in other places. If so it could also be worth checking with your GP just to rule out any physical illnesses.

It can be really surprising the types of things that can affect how children respond to different environments. This is not to say that something bad happened to her in crèche, she could even feel that she did something wrong, it may not even been something real or could be a misinterpretation. It could really be as simple as not feeling comfortable there or maybe a new staff member might have put her off. You won’t know until you ask her.

ften some open communication, and some simple explaining and reassurances from a parent can make all the difference in these types of situations. It could help to reassure your daughter that if the two of you together can work out why she is having a sick tummy in this environment that you can help her deal with whatever it is so she doesn’t have to feel this way any more.

If your daughter is displaying this type of behaviour in other environments too it could be a clue that she could be experiencing some underlying anxiety issues. If this is the case a professional would be able to advise you on strategies you can use with your daughter to help her to feel less anxious.

All the best,


Rebecca says: i just finished antidepressants a few weeks ago, and i had been seeing a counselor. however recently i feel really down again and have been having suicidal thoughts. i feel like ive just gotten back into my rut and im afraid to tell anyone because ive already been treated for depression and i was better.

Hi Rebecca,

Sorry to hear about the struggle you’re having with depression, it must be really frustrating, especially to feel like you’re back at where you started after receiving treatment.

There is a risk that once anti-depressants have left your system, you may get a recurrence of the depression. It is often temporary but it does require monitoring to try and make sure you don’t have a recurrence.

Usually this monitoring takes place with a medic, probably the person who prescribed the medication. Is there any way you can check back in with them over the next couple of days?

There’s absolutely no shame in going back to speak with whomever you were working with previously, and hopefully they’ll be able to help you with your current depression.

Kind regards,


Lina says: Hi,
I’m a 21 year old university student, I used to be so confident, but the last two weeks I’ve really changed ( I don’t know if this helps but I just came back from vacation where I went to a really crowded city) I started to really care about what others would say about me, like when I enter the class and people would look at me while I enter I would start having these thoughts that people are saying I smell bad or that my perfume was too much. And when people whisper I automatically think that they are talking about me and say that I smell bad. Or when I sit and then the person besides me coughs or sneezes or says ugh/huff “when they’re bored from the lecture” I think that it’s because of me. I asked my family and friends that I trust do I smell bad? and they said you always smell nice you smell like shampoo and perfume. I’m a really clean person I take extra care of my personal hygiene but I don’t know why I’m having these irritating thoughts, I’m a having social anxiety? please help me I don’t want to drop out of college because of this problem.

Hi Lina,

I can hear you are feeling a bit confused and concerned over the thoughts you’re having and we hope we can help point you in the right direction to get some support.

It sounds like you are experiencing some negative and intrusive thoughts. We don’t want to think these things and we know they are not rational or logical but they jump into our mind and make us feel worried and unsure and reduce our confidence levels. They can often happen in places and times when we’re feeling a little bit nervous or anxious anyway.

These intrusive, negative thoughts can often be caused by an anxiety or worry of some kind but they won’t be with you forever. There are lots of ways of dealing with and getting rid of these thoughts and dealing with any underlying anxieties we might have.

It’s great that you’ve spoken with your family and friends about this, and we would encourage you to keep talking to them about how you feel. Having someone we trust there to listen can be really reassuring.

We’re based in Ireland, and we’re not sure where you are based Lina, but as well as talking to family and friends, I would encourage you to seek some support from a counsellor. Many universities have health centres with counsellors and some may even be free to access. If your university doesn’t have a health centre, you could ask your local doctor to recommend a counsellor for you.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might be really helpful as it is a type of talk therapy that focuses on how you think about yourself, the world and other people and how these thoughts affect our behaviour and our feelings. A counsellor could work with you and help you to replace your negative thoughts with more helpful ones.

There are also online CBT tools you could use like Mood Gym,which I know is designed for helping people to cope with depression, but you might find a lot of the activities and tools useful.

You might find keeping a diary helps, whether a traditional paper diary or an online journal. You could use it to track where you were when you felt an intrusive thought, what those thoughts were, how it made you feel and how you dealt with them, i.e ignore them, leave the situation, try to replace the thoughts with nicer ones, etc.

Reading back over your diary might help you identify patters or triggers, which can help you (and your counsellor, if you decide to speak with one) figure out how best to deal with them.

I hope this helps Lina, and that you do seek some support with these negative thoughts. Please seek some help and support before you consider dropping out of college. Things will get better and you won’t have these thoughts forever.

Kind regards,


LG958 says:Hi, i’ve been having a really hard time at home lately, my friends aren’t speaking to me after a row, and I get picked on in school and stuff pretty badly! I feel really alone and scared right now, but I don’t know where to turn to! I’ve also been skipping meals and stuff lately, and I’m scared it will get worse

Hi LG958,

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a hard time lately, it seems you’ve been through a lot. Sometimes we can experience a hard time when we’re not communicating very well with each other which can lead to misunderstanding. The situation with your friends and being picked on in school is obviously making matters worse for you and making it harder for you to get through this. At this stage it will be important for you to speak to someone you trust about what is going on. I know it might seem like the last thing you want to do but talking to a teacher or the school guidance counsellor will help you to understand what’s happening. Teachers and guidance counsellors are trained to support students and it is their job to help you get through this tough time. I know it’s really difficult to do but if you can find the courage to speak to a trusted adult face to face you can begin to get through this. If you cannot identify a teacher you know well enough or trust you could visit your nearest GP and ask for his or her advice.

There is more information throughout on Family and friends and Face to face help.

Please do talk to someone who can help you get through this.


Lisa says: i tink i mite be depressed i hate me life im like this ages now i fell i cant talk to anyone about it im after pushn meslef away from me friends i stay in all the time with felln sad sumtimes i think bout ending it all but cant cause of me family ive an aunt who took her own life an cudnt put my family true that again and there ah strong family history of mental illness in my family aswell

Hi Lisa,

Even though you have been feeling so sad for a while now it’s good that you are really trying to make sense of those feelings and understand what is going on in your life. It is important that you speak to someone who can help you to get through those feelings. Your local GP can help figure out what will help and, if you haven’t already, you should make an appointment to see the GP as soon as possible.

If you are in crisis at any point and feel you need to talk to someone straight away you can call Samaritans on 1850 609090 any time of the day or night or the 1Life Helpline on 1800 247 100 – also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Please do talk to your GP,

Mike says:
Broke up with my girlfriend so low at the moment

Hi Mike

Relationship break-ups are very hard. There can be many reasons why couples break up and it can be very hard, even painful when you are trying to make sense of it all. The most important thing to do is to look after yourself, don’t rush yourself and talk to someone about how you are feeling. If there is a close friend or family member that you can confide in then talk to them. You might prefer to talk to someone outside of the situation like a counsellor.

You can find out more information about Counselling and what often happens when you are Ending a relationship on

Take care

Louise says:
hi im feeling down all the time and its been 2 years. I am 18 going on 19 and feel like i have no where else to turn. i feel tired all the time i cant sleep and hae no motivation to do anything. i dont want to feel like this i even feel guilty for bring the way i am. I have been to my doctor and went on the pill incase this is a hromal thing but i dont think that has helped me. i feel lonely and pathetic i dont usually do this kind of thing but im willing to try something. what can i do ? i am not sure going to my doctor will help and i know going to talk with someone professional costs alot…any help would be appreciated. thank you

Hi Louise

It sounds like you have been trying to make sense of your feelings for a while and it can be difficult to know where to turn when you have already been to see your doctor. While it might seem frustrasting, your doctor will want to know that you don’t think their advice so far has really helped you…it would be doing both of you a favour if you go back to your doctor and tell him or her exactly how you are feeling so that you can explore other options to help you feel better.

You also mention talking to someone professional and the cost of that. There are a wide range of counselling services and some of them charge according to what the person can afford. There is a full directory of counselling services that are explained on

Shane says: i was caught drink driving i didnt realise i was over the limit the garda gave me my keys back that night and i drove my car home should i still be charged

An encounter like the one you have experienced with the Gardai can be very stressful, and not knowing or understanding the outcome can leave you anxious. It will be good if you can talk through exactly what happened with a trusted friend or family member and also read through the information on about Drink driving. After you’ve done that if you are still unsure as to whether you will be charged you should ask the question in your local Garda station. Either way you will feel much better knowing than not knowing.

Take care

Tricia says:
Hello there, I’m somewhat unfomalular with BiPolar etc… but I actually think I might have it. The only thing is that I had a stroke about 10 years ago, and seen as the symptoms are kind of similar… i.e. increased agression, I tend to loose my temper easily, I loose my train of thought when agitated, have sometime have furious mood swings etc… Most of the time I’m fine when i’m not around my family, but for some reason or anothe they just seem to set me off EVERYTIME !! Its like as if they are expecting me to act a certain way & I stupidly give them what they want !! I have a wonderful boyfriend who does have BiPolar Stage II, so I have seen first had what thats like watching him, but knowing myself and and my situation with my family I’m not so sure about myself !! I Really Need Someone’s HELP & Afvice coz honest to God…I just get so frustrated and end up loosing it unfortunately, even though I know I shouldn’t !! Whats worst of all is that everyone keeps telling me that I need to change my behavious, but no one seems to be looking at themselves !! Thanks.

Hi Tricia

We’re sorry to hear you’re feeling this way. It’s one of those ironies of life that we can become most stressed when we are among close family and that can often be associated with anger. We can feel this stress for many reasons including poor communication and mis-understandings. There are tips elsewhere on this site around Family relationships that will hopefully help you make sense of the way things are at home.

It is great that you have someone to talk to in your boyfriend who is outside of that immediate home situation but it would also be good if you can speak to your GP about how you are feeling. If you tell your GP that you think you may have bi-polar, he or she will be able to advise you on the next steps you should take to mmanage the way your feeling.

Please do talk to your GP so that you get the help and support you need,

Take care

Mary says:
i was recently treated for a very bad UTI INFECTION but failed to physically recover fully, no energy constantly feeling tired and faint. My bocy was shaking and i had the feeling i was getting a heart attack.Had lots of tests done, all showed up clear, thank god. Was told i was having anxiety- panic attacks, Put on low dose of Zanex and it helps but they have not gone away. Due to go on holidays for 14 days and will bring enough meds with me. Will follow up with physchiarist on my return from holidays. Any advice on how ot deal with these weak fainting feelings.

Hi Mary

It must be difficult for you managing those feelings of panic and anxiety. In many cases, the preferred treatment option for anxiety would be psychological, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for example. There is more information on how CBT works on the site.It would be worth making an appointment with a psychologist to discuss how you are feeling and to go through the range of support options. Or discuss those different options with a GP.

Take care

Jason says:
do you know of any groups directed towards older men 43yrs, im currently on the mend. i think.

Hi Jason

It’s good that you think you’re on the mend.

The Men’s Health Forum in Ireland will be able to point you in the direction of any available support for older men near where you’re living – you can contact them through their website. It’s also worth exploring whether there is a Men’s Shed where you live. Men’s sheds is a fairly new movement internationally based around community sheds where men of all ages can get together and talk about whatever is on their minds while also getting involved in bits and pieces of manual labour or sharing skills.

If you are currently concerned about your mental health though you may need to speak with a health professional – your GP is always a good place to start,

Take care

Thomas says:
hi i have read abit about depression and think i might be suffering from it my dad had it dor years . i am a self employed mechanic but lately i just find answering the phone to customers is a big deal my relationship with my partner is suffering because of my attatude i just feel down all the time and have very little intrest in work . in the last few years i lost my mother my father and my brother and just cant seem to get my life back on track , do you think i might have depression, thank you

Hi Thomas

It sounds like you’ve been through quite a lot recently and it may be that you are experiencing depression and / or anxiety which in many ways is a normal reaction to what you have experienced. The best thing to do at this stage would be to have a general chat with your GP and explain to him or her how you are feeling.

It’s great that you’ve taken the first step towards dealing with and moving on from your feelings, please do take the next step and talk to your GP. There is short video on that helps to explain what a visit to the GP for a mental health issue is like.

Take care

Megan says:
hi in the past 2months my whole life has come crashing down 🙁 i made a huge mistake and stole money from where i worked…. I lost control and couldnt stop myself from taking it. anyways in may i was arrested and now there is going to be a huge court case 🙁 and then last week my boyfriend broke up with me when he promised to stand by me 🙁 i am now back at home with my parents and i have broken everyones heart 🙁 i am in pieces but dont want to talk to my family or friends because i feel i have put way too much on them 🙁 all i want to do is end my life so this mess will be over for everyone 🙁 i cry every single night and i cant eat or sleep 🙁 and to make the story worse the person i stole from is well known in ireland so i am going to be all over the media and i cant go through with it 🙁 i have lost everything 🙁 and i cant cope 🙁 🙁

Hi Megan,

I am really sorry to hear about how you are feeling. It sounds like this whole experience is really distressing for you. Not being able to eat or sleep and crying all the time must be really hard.

As awful as this experience is, it is something you will have to go through but although right now it may feel like you life has come crashing down you will not always feel like this. You will get through this and things will get better. It seems like a lot of your distress is being caused by the situation you are in and this situation although unpleasant is temporary.

However, you will need support and help to get through it. It’s good that you are back at home and surrounded by family. It’s a good idea to try to let them know how sorry you are and how much you appreciate their help and support.

You have already been through a tough time so try not to beat yourself up about it and concentrate on getting through the situation. You deserve to give yourself a chance and try to forgive yourself. This one mistake dose not define who you are so try not to let it. We all make mistakes but the important thing is that we learn from them by getting the help and support we need.

Your family is probably worried about you as well as a bit cross. It may all be a bit of a shock to them and be hard for them to understand why you did what you did as you are finding it hard to understand yourself. Given time the information will sink in and everyone will come to terms with what has happened. I know you say that you feel like you would be burdening your family but you really do need to talk about how you are feeling. Bottling things up will not help and your family wants you to be happy.

If you are really not comfortable talking to someone you know then it’s a good idea to speak to somebody outside of the situation. A professional like a counselor or psychologist can help you figure out why you felt compelled to have the behaviors that you did and how to deal with these urges and find healthier ways to cope in the future. They will also be able to help you through the stress of the courts and with your family relationships so you can start to feel yourself again. Your GP should be able to recommend someone in your local area or you can find some at the counseling directory.

It may feel like you have broken everyone’s heart but the people who love you care about you and want you to be OK. I know you feel hopeless right now but you will not feel this way forever and finding the right people to support you through will make all the difference.



Dee says:
Hi, I was looking for advice on relationships. My son Died suddenly in bed 2 and half years ago. He was only 10 years old, and it has effected me badly. He was my only son then and was so healthy one day and gone the next . He Died of Sudep. Since his passing all my friendships with family and friends have suffered. I feel isolated , i since went on to have another child. Which has given me new meaning, given me hope, and given me a reason to keep going. Can you give me advice on what i can do to improve my relationships and friendships.

Hi Dee,

I think that it is really important that you (and your partner if you have one) go for support and bereavement work. The death of a child is one of the worst, if not the worst experience for anyone especially a sudden death when you don’t have time to prepare.

There are many groups around the country where you can talk to other parents who have been through a similar experience to yourself. It can be helpful to speak to people who can understand what you have been through and share strategies about how to get through. Your GP may be able to recommend groups in your local area.

Alternatively, there are many grief counsellors available. It would be very helpful for you as well as in the parenting of this new baby and your relationships with others if you were to be able to work with someone who could help you understand your experiences a bit better and maybe share some of the pain.Again your GP should be able to recommend someone in your local area or you can find someone at the counselling directory.

The grieving process can take a long time and is different for everyone. It is really great to hear that you now have hope and a reason to keep going but you do need to reach out and reconnect with your support network. You have been through so much that it’s understandable that your personal relationships have suffered but you can rebuild them. If you speak openly to your family and friends about what you have been through they can work with you to build these relationships again. This is also something that a professional would be able to help you and support you in.



Worried says:
I’m 11 weeks pregnant and decided to keep the baby. My brother who is 5 years older than me (I’m 19), has put a lot of pressure on me to abort the baby even when I told him the decision I am taking. The babies father was for abortion until I told him my decision. Now he doesn’t want to talk about the baby or how I feel. Any time I do, he either walks away or tells me he doesn’t want to talk about it. I respect that he is having a difficult time coming to terms with it (so am I!) but I need his support as his reaction just stresses me out more.
Can you please give me some advice on how to deal with them and make them come around to the idea? Or deal with the negative criticism they give when I talk about having the baby. Its particularly difficult at the moment because I’m working in a different country for the summer and won’t be home until September.

My mother is the only real support I have in my decision. But she isn’t able to come and visit me for another month. I’m going slightly insane and becoming a bit depressed without the support (I can’t sleep at night.) So any advice for the month that I am alone?

Hi Worried

An unplanned pregnancy is a lot to deal with especially if you don’t have your normal support network around you. Being away from home can get anyone down especially if we are going through a tough time

The most important thing is to make sure you are healthy, especially if you are not sleeping. It’s important that you get good antenatal support wherever you are. A local doctor should be able to tell you about services in the local area where you can access this. Especially if you are starting to feel depressed, eating right and exercising regularly will help with this too.

It’s really great that your mother is so supportive. It may be a good idea to arrange regular contact with her and any other friends you have at home via skype. Just so you can keep that contact and support.

I’m really sorry to hear about the reactions of your brother and boyfriend. It is really sad that they don’t feel that they are in a place where they can support you right now. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do to change their minds or opinions. They sound like they are going to need a little more time to get used to the idea. It’s understandable that you are feeling stressed and a bit angry, as you don’t get the luxury of this time but it’s important that you don’t let their reactions get to you. It’s likely that their criticisms are coming from their own fear around the situation and how it will affect them and have little to do with you anyway.

This section of the site has lots of tips on different styles of communication, it has some really good tips that may be useful to see if there is a different way you could express how you are feeling that may get through to them if you decide to try and talk it through with them again.

It would be really great to have their support but if they are being negative then it may be best to get out of the house for a bit. Maybe there is a club or a meet up that you could join to meet some new people and have some fun away from the negative environment. has groups with lots of different interests from Harry Potter to photography in most cities in the world. Or maybe you could hang out with some people you have met in work? Either way if you are feeling down it’s important to get out and about and be social, especially if you don’t have your normal friends around you.

It sounds like you are in a bit of a lonely and scary place at the moment but you can get through it with the right support.



Karl says:
I’ll start off by telling you what happens. Whenever I have sex, usually the day after I begin to freak out and have panic attacks that the girl might be pregnant even if I used proper protection. I literally become a different person, I’m usually outgoing, but I turn quiet and subtle. I think of all the bad things like ‘What if shes pregnant’ then I imagine the girl telling me shes pregnant which frightens me so much. I have told some of my friends and they always reassure me everything is fine, and it always is fine but I can’t seem to get my head over it until I actually wait 4 weeks then assume every things fine.
I’ll tell you all the details of all I’m worried about. This time I had sex, I had a condom on me, but stupidly took it off during it. She is on the pill, and I never ejaculated, I wasn’t even near ejaculating and I barely even got it up due to all the drink I had. I know there is pre-*** and I urinated before we had sex.
She tells me she takes the pill properly, but I dont know if I trust her or not, which may be one of the reasons I’m freaking out. She has her period in 3 weeks and had her last period one week ago, according to her friend.
I told her about the emergency pill but she doesn’t think she needs to take it.
Shes not freaking out at all, and assures me it will be fine. But why can’t I move on and forget about it?
Does anyone know what could be wrong with me? And how I could help me with this anxiety as even if I am doing something, it always comes back to haunt me. Even when I have sex with a condom and she’s on the pill I worry.
I’m taking relaxing pills it can be that bad, is there a possibility to go to a specialist who could hypnotize me to not to worry?
I’m desperate.

Hi Karl,

It must be really hard to feel so stressed and anxious.

You don’t say in your comment but do you feel anxious about other things tooor is it mostly specific to these situations?

Either way if this is bothering you to the extent you are worried all of the time then you need to speak to somebody about it. There could be many different things causing this anxiety but a professional can help you work this out so that you can identify and deal with the reasons for it. Your GP should be able to recommend someone you could speak to about your anxiety or you can find someone on the counseling directory If you feel shy about speaking to someone lots of people think writing it down first helps, or just printing off your comment here.

It sounds like you k now this anxiety isn’t helping you – Although there is no way to guarantee 100% that pregnancy will not occur after sexual intercourse there are certainly things you can do to reduce the risk. This section of the site has lots of information on sexual health that you may find helpful.

It seems like your anxiety is coming from the fear of getting someone pregnant but knowing at the same time that this is not something you are ready for. It’s a possibility that you are not ready for this level of intimacy with someone. Being emotionally ready for sex is different for everyone and there needs to be a lot of trust between the people involved. It may be best to avoid having sex until after you have worked out what is going on for you. Sometimes the reason for anxiety like you are experiencing is not the situation but something else going on in your life at the time. This is why it’s important to speak to someone about what you are going through. This can be worked through it’s not something that you have to experience forever!



Debbie says:
for the last while I have felt like nothing is ever going to go right for me. I get this horrible feeling like I cant breath, I lost my mother just over a year ago and I cant cope without her. I have got very good at pretending everything is fine……but Iv never felt more alone, I don’t know who to talk to and im sick of crying all the time. How do you know if your depressed? or how do u go about finding out if you are? I keep thinking that somethings gona change if I just do nothing….that one day il wake up and be fine….but its not, I hate feeling like this and Im so tired of not sleeping right and feeling alone. Who should I talk to?

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for writing in to It sounds like a pretty tough time for you right now and I’m really sorry to hear how you’re feeling. Losing someone close to us is one of the hardest things we will ever have to go through. Everyone experiences grief differently but we all need support to help us through it. Things can get better and a little bit of support can make a big difference to help us get through day-today and help us to cope a bit better.

You’ve already made a really positive start by commenting here and looking for some information to help you through.

Pretending everything is fine and not opening up to anyone can sometimes feel like the easier option. It can be really tough to talk about personal feelings like this but talking and opening up will help you through and help to share the load.

You’re not alone is this and you don’t have to struggle through this on your own; there are lots of people to talk to. I wonder if you have a family member or friend that you trust that you could talk to about this? It can be tough to think about opening up to people close to us but it can help to have someone in our life who knows what’s going on and how we’re feeling. I’m sure there are lots of people who knew and loved your mother and they might be open to talking about how they feel since she passed. It can help to know that you’re not alone in experiencing grief.

I wonder if you have an important date coming up like your birthday or you mother’s birthday or anniversary or if you have just had a sudden reminder about your mother? The time leading up to important and special dates like these can be very difficult. We need to find new ways to cope and I know it takes lots of courage but it can help to talk with someone about how to get through the special dates like birthdays and anniversaries. There is no right or wrong way to deal with them; we all have our own way and talking about it with trusted family and friends can help. There is some more information on grief and loss on

I would encourage you to talk to your local GP. A GP is usually the first person to talk to about any kind of health concern including a mental health concern. They can help us by talking to us and trying to help us figure out what’s going on. It can be hard to know if what you’re going through is depression or not, but regardless, it sounds like it would be worth talking to your GP.

It might be worth considering talking to a counsellor as well. Counsellors help us to talk about what’s going on and will listen to whatever you have to say. Sharing our thoughts and concerns with someone can really help. If this is something you would like to do, you can make an appointment with your GP and ask for a recommendation of a local counsellor or you can find a counsellor yourself at Counselling Directory. This factsheet explains what counselling is.

I’m not sure how old you are Debbie. If you’re under 18, you might need your dad or a guardian to go with you to a GP appointment or to give consent for you to go to a counselling session. Depending on whether you are older or under 18 years of age, there are different support organisations who provide counselling and bereavement support. If you would like to reply to us and let us know if you’re older or under 18, the team can let you know about support organisations that you could get in touch with.

It’s important to look after yourself at this time. Try not to put pressure on yourself, but do mind yourself. When we’re not feeling good, it can be easy to forget to do things like eat properly and do a bit of exercise but these things can help us. You say you’re not sleeping very well and we have some tips and information about sleeping in our Minding our mental health section.

It’s really positive that you are looking for some support and information. Things can get better; you don’t always have to feel like this. The first year or so after the death of a loved one is the worst time because you have to learn new ways to do things and each time afterwards can be as difficult but you do learn how to cope with it better. Finding the right support can make all the difference and I would encourage you to think about talking to a trusted friend or family member, your GP and a counsellor.

I hope this helps in some way Debbie and if you need any further information, comment again and let us know.



Megan says:
hi i really hope you can help me im really worried about my aunty she has been suffering with depression and anxiety for the last 14 years she has been on several different types of medication and they seem to work for a number of weeks and then bang it all collapses and things worsen each time the latest med she has been on is lexipro and they have just simply stopped working her anxiety is through the roof and depression has sunk in severly.. she hasnt got out of the bed in days and when she has she has just sat and cried.. im really concerned and dont know how to help please advise me on better meds she can ask her gp for. ect seems the best way out of all of this but how severe do you have to be to be considered for this treatment.. please get back asap im really concerned now… megan

Hi Megan,

It can be really scary when someone we care about is going through a tough time. It must be really hard to see your aunt crying and not feeling able to get out of bed.

It sounds like you are very worried about your aunty. It’s really great that your aunt has such a caring niece for support but you need to remember that you don’t have to deal with this on your own. There are plenty of people and services out there that can help support your aunt.

It’s important to make sure that your aunt is linked in with professional help. It is sad to hear that she has been going through this for so long but with the right help she can get better. Depression is different for everyone so different things help different people get though it. It may be taking some time but it is possible for your aunt to find the right combination that works for her. Medication can help but it often works best in conjunction with other things like talk therapies. It’s important that your aunt explores all of her options and finds someone to speak to about everything she is going through.

<p>It can take weeks or even months for a new medication to start working but if your aunt feels that her medication isn’t working then she needs to speak to a doctor or the professional who originally prescribed it about how she is feeling. It’s really important that your aunt continues to take the medication even if she feels that it is not working. Stopping taking medication without medical supervision can be dangerous. When she speaks to her doctor they will be able to assess what other types of things may help her like adjusting the dose or a talk therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is not used very often any more and if it is it is used fore very specific reasons. It is very rare that a medical professional would recommend this as a treatment nowadays.If your aunt doesn’t feel up to it then maybe you or a relative can make contact with a mental health professional that knows her. The best one is usually the community psychiatric nurse if your aunt is in contact with mental health services. They will visit the house and that sounds as if it would be helpful. Another way would be to you’re your aunt contact the GP or her psychiatrist (if she has one). It can be difficult to get them to do home visits so it might be good if you or another relative brought her to the clinic and if your aunt gives permission, you or your relative might even be able to sit in on part of the appointment to give a different perspective and offer support.

As long as your aunt is in regular contact with health care professional then she should be getting the right support. It’s really important that she stays connected with these people.

It can be really distressing when someone we care about is going through a tough time and it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves when we are worried. One of the best things you can do is make sure that you and your mum are OK and take time out to look after yourselves during this tough time.

Keep reaching out


Laura says:
I’m 20 years old, I weigh 13 stone and I’m 5″4. I struggle with my weight and it’s really getting me down. I have good days and bad days. I’d eat healthy for breakfast and then throughout the day without noticing I’d be eating chocolate or crisps. I also exercise 3 or 4 times a week for 45 minutes. I get real depressed and guilty when I overindulge too. Any advice to help me be more positive about becoming more healthy and to stop overindulging?
Thanks, Laura.

Hi Laura,

Feeling like you are struggling with your weight and feeling depressed and guilty must be really hard.

If you are feeling down it’s a good idea to speak to a professional like a counselor or psychologist to help you figure out why you are feeling so down about yourself and your eating. They can work with you to develop strategies so that you can feel better about yourself and find healthier ways to deal with your feelings that don’t involve eating. If you can work with someone so that you start to feel good about yourself then it will be much easier to make changes in your behaviors.

If you find yourself eating when you are feeling down or are bored then you might be comfort eating. Everybody eats when they are upset from time to time but if you are feeling down or bored regularly then it can become a problem as it can lead to overeating. This habit can be broken though, with things like identifying what makes you feel like eating and exploring alternatives to deal with these feelings. But it will take a lot of work and finding the right professional to help you will make all the difference.

Different things work for different people and it may take some time to find the right combination of support for you, but it is possible. Changing a behavior can be really hard, a lot of people struggle with overeating. You are definitely not alone.

Some things that have worked for others are getting support from a dietician as they can help you plan out meals so that you can make sure they are healthy. Joining a group like weightwatchers can be helpful for some as it can help to be part of a group of people who understand what you are going through and you can all help to motivate each other. Maybe even using an app that can help you see your progress and regulate your diet and exercise regime.

Your health and being happy within yourself are the most important things, speaking to someone about how you are feeling is the best first step.



Densy says:
hiiyaaa.. im 18… 6 years ago i started to self harm using blades on my face then it when onto my hands arms feet and then tummy.. I have recently stopped by my mum has told me some bad news,, she found a lump in her right breast 🙁 I really dont know what to do she has made me promise not to tell anyone but its just too much for me to handle . I feel like harming myself how do i control my feelings without dis obeying my mum someone help… 🙁 🙁 🙁 im really confused and dont know who to trust anymore.. I have a Councillor but she is so busy now because of the summer holidays. WHAT DO I DO???

Hi Densy,

I’m really sorry to hear what you’re going through. News like this is understandably hard to deal with and it can be really difficult to find good ways to cope when we’re told news like this. It seems like harming yourself was your way of coping with tough times until just recently and you made the very brave and right decision to stop.

The thing is, when we lose one way of coping, we need to replace it with another one and there are much better ways of coping than self-harm. It’s great and a really positive sign that you’re looking for some support and information so that you don’t self-harm again.

Our self-harm factsheet has lots of information that you’ll hopefully find helpful. There is also a list of ‘distraction techniques’ with things you can do instead of harming yourself. These are things like going for a run, reading a book, baking cupcakes or singing to music as loudly as you can. There are some examples on our factsheet page and you can find loads more distractions by following this link. You might like to make a list of things that would work for you to distract yourself when you feel like self-harming. This can be your personal list and you can turn to it when you feel like you might harm yourself. You could also do something similar to the girl in this story. She wrote a story for us about her ‘green box’ and how it helps her stop self-harming.

It’s great that you have been talking to a counsellor and I’m sure that even though she’s busy she would make time for you. You deserve to be able to talk to someone and I’m sure your counsellor would try to meet you if you asked her. Talking is really important and I know your mum asked you not to tell anyone, but that seems like a confusing and unfair position to put you in. We all need someone to talk to when there’s something bothering us. Your mum was able to talk to you, but now you deserve to be able to talk to someone about this too. News like this is a lot for anyone to handle and too much to have to handle alone. We wonder would it be worth talking to your mum and letting her know that the news is a lot to handle and that you’d like to talk to someone about it. You can talk to your counsellor about it in confidence and she won’t tell anyone. Similarly you can talk to people like the Samaritans 24 hours a day about anything that’s bothering you. You can contact them on 1850 60 90 90 or by email:

I hope your mum is getting some support too and I would encourage her to go to her GP if she hasn’t done so already. Finding a lump can be very scary but there’s lots of help and support available and your mum can access this help and support by talking to her GP. Yourself and your mum can also help each other through this by talking and being open with one another.

You’ve been incredibly brave so far Densy and you should be very proud of yourself. It is hard to stop self-harming but you’ve taken all the rights steps and you can keep going by looking up the distraction techniques I mentioned and making out a list for yourself, by talking to your mum about how this situation is making you feel and by asking your counsellor for another appointment.

You can always comment on again if you have any more questions or if there’s something else you would like to share.

Take care Densy,

Regards, Helen

Lucy says:
I don’t even know if what I’m feeling all the time is classed as anything or if it’s just me being over reactive. I can’t sit in a room with people with dead silence unless it’s family and even at that I feel uncomfortable. When I am in school and the class is going on I can’t focus on anything because I’m worried that my stomach is going to make a noise because of the tight painful feeling I have in my stomach because of my worrying. I worry that if my stomach makes noises people will look at me and laugh. I know that it sounds petty but its drawing me into a dark place where I have panic attacks before school and find excuses to leave the classroom. I can’t face humiliation. The pains I get on the left side of my stomach have always been there when I’m in large crowds and only for the last year when it’s very quiet and people will hear. I also get this fear that I’m going to vomit in public situations which leads me to stay at home most of the time instead. I need a way out of this and I can’t keep going on like this in fear of being humiliated by these embarrassing, tight, painful noises that my stomach makes. I feel as though I am over reacting but I’d like to go to my GP and maybe talk to them and get prescribed something. Please tell me if it’s all in my head or if this is something I need to confront because endless amounts of tears and panics are wearing me out.

Hi Lucy,

I’m really glad you got in touch with It sounds like you’re going through a pretty tough and stressful time and I don’t think you’re over reacting. In fact, it’s really positive that you’re looking for some support and information to help you through this. I think you could do with talking to someone about how you’re feeling.

Sometimes feelings of worry and panic can present as physical symptoms like the pain in your stomach that you mention. It’s also not uncommon to want to avoid the places where we feel panicky. However it is also important to make sure that you do not have any other condition such as an infection that might cause you to have stomach problems. Therefore it would be good if you could go to your GP to check them out.

Also, struggling alone with feelings of anxiety and panic can be exhausting and it’s understandable that you’re starting to feel worn out. You mention that you would like to speak to your GP about it and I think it is a good idea to talk to your GP about that as well. You say you are still in school and so you’re probably under 18 years of age? Depending on your age, some GPs will want your parent’s or guardian’s permission to speak with you. It’s probably a good idea to phone your GP and see whether he or she would want your parent’s permission or whether they will talk to you on your own.

If the GP needs to speak with your parents, we wonder would that be ok? Talking to family can be tough as we can be afraid of what they will think or say. It can be really good and take a load off your mind though to share these feelings with trusted family though and it can help us to get the support we need and deserve. Maybe you have a trusted friend at school you could talk to as well? It might help to have someone at school who knows how you’re feeling and that you could talk to during the school day. In the same way it might help to talk to a teacher that you trust or a school counsellor, if your school has one.

As well as talking to your GP and to a trusted family member, friend or teacher there are lots of things you can do to try to reduce feelings of worry and panic. The page on Panic attacks mentions a breathing exercise that I think it might be good for you to try. Practise it first when you’re not feeling panicky and then when you get good at it, you can use it if you do feel panicky. It’s really subtle and no one will know you’re doing it so you can use it in public places too.

Eating well, getting enough sleep and getting enough exercise can all help to reduce feelings of worry and panic too. There’s lots of information on these in the Minding our mental health section.

You can get through this Lucy. You’re not over-reacting and it’s really great that you got in touch with us.

I hope you find the information here helpful.



Joanna says:
I’m 22 years old,an engineering student.everyone always makes fun of my height and looks.i’m just 5’0.i feel really lonely and isolated in college,sometimes even at home.i hardly have people in my life i can actually call friends!.There’s no one who cares for me,not even my family.I’m not good at anything either.Everyone prefers someone else over me always!.what should i do?

Hi Joanna,

Thanks for writing in to ask the expert. I can hear you’re feeling quite lonely and unsure and I hope this reply will be helpful for you.

It can be hard not to take notice of what other people think of us. I know it’s easier said than done, but the most important thing is that we like and accept who we are. It can take time and effort but it starts with little things like focussing on one part of ourselves that we like and building on that.

College can be a great time to try new things. Most colleges have clubs and societies for almost anything and it might be an idea to try something new. No one expects us to be good at something the first time we try it and you might have fun trying and meet new people too.

It does sound like it might help to talk with someone about how you’re feeling. Most colleges have health centres with free access to counsellors for students. lists all colleges in Ireland and if you click on your college you can see what support services are available on your campus. We all need some extra support from time-to-time and talking to a counsellor might help you to work through how you’re feeling. You can read here about what to expect from a visit to a counsellor . It may be that you are experiencing depression as this can colour our thinking so that we emphasise the bad things and don’t notice the good. Your GP can be helpful if you get on well with him/her and they are trained to notice depression. They can advise you on whether you might need help such as counselling or sometimes medicine can be helpful.

Challenging your thinking is something else you might try. We’re often very unfair to ourselves and put ourselves down and give out to ourselves more than we ever would do to someone else. You can read here about challenging that inner voice .

I hope this helps Joanna.



Sean says:
I recently had brain surgery for my Epilepsy. I am still recovering from the surgery. After 4 weeks i started feeling better and i was confident the surgery was going to be a success ( seizure free).
Last weekend i ended up having 4 seizures during the night. Since then i have been feeling terrible.
The big problem has been anxiety and panic attacks. I cant sleep at night because my heart is racing, feels like im having a heart attack. Im going see surgeon next week to discuss my results.
Have you any tips on how to get rid of the panic attacks, its really disrupting my recovery and i dont like telling people like my wife because it sounds stupid.
Thanks Sean

Hi Sean,

Thanks for writing in to us. I’m sorry to hear about the panic attacks and the anxiety. Panic attacks are very frightening and after having one, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious about having another, which can lead to a vicious cycle.

There are lots of things you can do to help reduce panic attacks and feelings of anxiety, but we would encourage you to discuss how you’re feeling with your surgeon when you see him/her next week. It is important for them to know about things like this and they should be able to provide specific advice for you based on your medical history. In the meantime, if you wanted, you could speak with your own GP to get some advice and information. Your GP is probably more accessible than your surgeon and your GP is generally the person who can put all the information together, so it’s good that your GP knows what’s going on as well.

What you’re experiencing doesn’t sound stupid to us and I imagine your wife would probably welcome you talking to her about this. Sometimes talking and sharing our concerns with someone we trust can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress and therefore reduce the chance of another panic attack. I would encourage you to talk to her about this.

Slow controlled breathing can help to control anxiety and panic. It’s a good idea to start plasticising these breathing techniques while you’re not having feeling panicky and when you get good at it, try to use it while panicking to slow your breathing down:

  • hold your breath and count to ten, then breathe out
  • breathe in through your nose for the count of three, then out through your mouth for the count of three – continue this for one minute
  • hold your breath again for the count of ten
  • do this for about 20 minutes a day (you could break it up, like doing four five-minute sessions), and any time you’re feeling panicky

When we feel panicky, hormones like adrenaline start pumping around our body and this may be what you are feeling when you say your heart races at night. The adrenaline will generally keep pumping until we use it up. One way to use up an excess of adrenaline is to exercise. Maybe going for a walk or a swim a few hours before bedtime might help to use up naturally produced adrenaline before you head for bed. Before you start exercising it is probably a good idea to discuss with your surgeon as to how much exercise you can and should do after your surgery.

Taking time to relax before bed is a good idea too. Wind down by taking a bath or reading a book or listening to some relaxing music. There is more information in the anxiety and panic section of

These things can all help but it will be important to discuss with your surgeon and, if you wanted, with your GP. If your feelings of anxiety continue, you could talk to a counsellor as well. It helps to be able to share our feelings and concerns with someone who can give us professional support. Your GP should be able to recommend a local counsellor or you can look for one yourself at .

I hope this helps Sean



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