Jessica Lange health: Actress on her ‘dark side’ and ‘tremendous mood swings’ – depression

This Morning: Dr Chris reveals symptoms of his depression

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Having become the 13th actress to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting – winning an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award during her career – the 73-year-old is highly regarded within her craft. But away from acting, back in 2016, Lange opened up about her own “dark side,” which she said plays a “big role” in whatever role she plays. Due to this, on some occasions it has taken its toll on the star’s mental health, with depression causing some worrying symptoms, especially before the actress had a family of her own.

During a throwback interview amidst her Oscar nomination for Blue Sky, where she played a housewife suffering from bipolar, Lange opened up about her mental health. She said that before the birth of her children, “bouts of depression,” at times stopped her from getting out of bed.

“With the arrival of my family, I felt tethered to life for the first time, and the restlessness that plagued me when I was younger finally disappeared,” she explained.

“I used to have real bouts of depression – I say that not having been in the depths of depression for a couple of years, thinking it’s a thing of the past, and maybe it’s not.

“When I was on my own, I could stay in bed for a week at a time and not talk to anybody, but with children you can’t allow yourself to wallow in those depths too long.

“Nonetheless, though my dark side is dormant right now, it continues to play a big role in whatever capacity I have to be creative – that’s the well I’m able to tap into where all the anguish, rage and sadness are stored.”

The star went on to explain that she suffered from “tremendous mood swings,” and still does, potentially causing distribution to her everyday life.

Lange is like many individuals globally that suffer from mental health issues such as depression. In fact, the Officer for National Statistics (ONS) found that around one in five (21 percent) adults experienced some form of depression in early 2021 (27 January to 7 March). This is an increase since November 2020 (19 percent).

In addition, it was reported that younger adults and women were more likely to experience some form of depression, with 43 percent of individuals aged 16 to 29 experiencing depressive symptoms.

Perhaps even more shockingly, University College London (UCL) found that th COVID-19 pandemic drove an additional 60,000 secondary school children in England into clinical depression.

Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. This is because different forms of depression develop under different circumstances. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that different disorders of depression can include the following:

Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. Individuals may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years.

Postpartum depression is defined as major depression during pregnancy or after delivery. The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.

Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing delusions, or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.

Seasonal affective disorder is characterised by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. Typically lifting during spring and summer, winter depression can be accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain and can return annually.

For other individuals, depression may develop for no apparent reason. This is known as clinical depression and can cause many symptoms that affect individuals both physically and mentally. These include:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling tearful
  • Feeling guilt-ridden
  • Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Lack of energy
  • Low sex drive (loss of libido).

The NHS advises that if you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms listed above, to seek medical attention, which can start with a trip to your GP. It stresses that the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.

Doctors and medical professionals will be able to advise individuals on the best treatments, which typically involve a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the main form of talking therapy used to help individuals manage the way they think and behave. It is recommended that individuals work with a therapist once a week or once every two weeks, during which they will break down their problems, thoughts, feelings and actions.

For those with more severe depression, medication can be used to improve the way the brain uses certain chemicals which play a part in controlling mood and stress. Medication is best used in conjunction with therapy as while antidepressants can treat the symptoms of depression, they do not always address its causes.

Beyond treatment, the NIH provides the following self-help tips to help individuals overcome depression:

  • Try to be active and exercise
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative
  • Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better.

For confidential mental health support call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively, text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19.

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