Olly Alexander health: It’s A Sin star opens up about his mental health struggles

It's a Sin: Channel 4 release trailer starring Olly Alexander

An advocate for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), Olly Alexander is the celebrity who has gained thousands of fans, not only for his music, but also for his openness about mental health.

“The likelihood is that you or someone you know closely will suffer from a mental health condition in your lifetime,” he told The Guardian’s Owen Jones.

“It’s like any other part of your body – your mental health gets sick, and it needs treatment.”

As a teenager, Olly would self harm, he told Alastair Campbell for GQ Magazine.

At the same time, he also developed an eating disorder – bulimia, which lasted for seven years.

The 30-year-old takes daily medication (sertraline) to manage his symptoms of depression.

Am I depressed?

The charity Rethink Mental Illness defined depression as a “long-lasting low mood disorder”.

A common mental health condition, affecting one in 10 people, treatment and support is available.

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Based on the NHS recommendation, people should talk to their GP if they’re experiencing symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day for over two weeks.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry
  • Having less energy to do certain things
  • Losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy
  • Loss of concentration
  • Becoming tired more easily
  • Disturbed sleep and losing your appetite
  • Feeling less good about yourself (loss of self-confidence)
  • Feeling guilty or worthless.

Experiencing a low mood can also lead to:

  • Feeling less pleasure from things
  • Feeling more agitated
  • Losing interest in sex
  • Finding your thoughts and movements slow down
  • Having thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Anyone struggling with their mental health are encouraged to call the Samaritans free helpline on 116 123.

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There’s also a Samaritans Self-Help app available, where you can document how you’re feeling, and get recommendations on how to help yourself cope, feel better and stay safe.

If you go to speak with a doctor about your feelings of depression, they should enquire about any possible causes of depression.

Sometimes, feelings of depression can be triggered by stressful events in your life.

Examples include divorce, redundancy, furlough, financial difficulties, and/or death of a loved one.

Reactive depression is different from an adjustment disorder, whereby symptoms of depression can follow a major change in your life.

This can include separation from people, retirement or migrating to a new area.

“Having problems with your thyroid or having low levels of Vitamin B12 may also be linked to experiencing symptoms of depression,” said the charity.

Lifestyle factors can also increase a person’s risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.

This can include not exercising, being under or overweight, and having fewer social relationships.

Evidence also suggests that drinking alcohol regularly or missing alcohol can put a person at greater risk of depression.

Other health conditions, such as diabetes and cancer can also coincide with feelings of depression.

Treatments for depression

Talking therapies are available for free on the NHS, however private healthcare providers can also offer help and support.

“The type of therapy you are offered will depend on the cause of your symptoms and their severity,” said Rethink Mental Illness.

Olly Alexander will be starring on BBC One’s The Graham Norton Show, on Friday January 8 at 10:45pm.

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