Advice And Information For Those Experiencing Depression And/Or Anxiety With ME/CFS
Now, you may be saying, in a rather loud voice, “ME/CFS is NOT Depression!”. No it’s not, and ME/CFS is not “all in your head”. While depression and anxiety are not symptoms of ME/CFS, they can be associated with the illness. Not because they are the cause but they can be the outcome of months and years of unrelenting debilitating illness.
If you find yourself with feelings of hopelessness and struggle day-to-day to face the world there are several options for treatment.
First of all, if you are feeling in a crisis situation you can call the following numbers for around the clock crisis advice and help:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
- Kid’s Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Suicide Line 1300 651 251
- Nurse On-Call 1300 60 60 24 (A Victorian Government phone service that provides immediate, expert health advice from a registered nurse (24/7))
There are also a number of websites that provide support:
- Beyond Blue
- Black Dog Institute
- Headspace (National Youth Mental Health Foundation)
- Relationships Australia – 1300 364 277 (Provides counselling for couples facing difficulties in their relationship)
- Women’s Information & Referral Exchange – 1300 134 130 (Free information service for women. Confidential support and referral service.)
- Men’s Line – 1300 78 99 78 (Men’s Line Australia is a dedicated service for men with relationship and family concerns.)
- Kids Helpline
- Nurse On-Call
- Griefline – Melbourne Metro: (03) 9935 7444, National: 1300 845 745 (call between 12.00 noon and 3.00 a.m. seven days a week, 365 day a year)
- Suicide Line
Getting Professional Help
The websites listed above contain much of the information you could possibly need in order to obtain professional help for depression and/or anxiety. For example The Black Dog Institute has several pages describing an overview and, when and where to get help.
The first port of call for help is usually your GP. They will make an initial assessment, and/or refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for further treatment. If you have depression, your GP may recommend some psychological intervention, such as cognitive behaviour therapy or interpersonal therapy, and might prescribe antidepressant medication to relieve some of the symptoms of depression.
Psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors are professionals trained to provide help for depression and mood disorders. The referral from your GP, necessary to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist, will either eliminate or reduce costs through Medicare. You may be eligible for a certain number of free allied health professional visits under what is known as a Medicare Mental Health Plan. More information can be found at health.gov.au.
References and Further Reading
Attree, E. A., et al. “Psychosocial factors involved in memory and cognitive failures in people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.” Psychol Res Behav Manag, 2014, 7: 67-76.
Bould, H., et al. “Depression in paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome.” Arch Dis Child, 2013, 98(6): 425-428.
Griffith, J. P. and F. A. Zarrouf. “A systematic review of chronic fatigue syndrome: don’t assume it’s depression.” Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry, 2008, 10(2): 120-128.