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Marcus Trescothick: talking helped my mental health

Trescothick is widely regarded as one of the best cricketers of his generation. Photo: PA

As Mental Health Awareness Week gets underway, international cricket star Marcus Trescothick has told ITV West Country that opening up about his struggles with anxiety and depression has been the key to overcoming them.

The Keynsham-born player's international cricket career was cut short by his mental health problems 10 years ago. But Trescothick says the combination of a proper diagnosis, cognitive behavioural therapy, medication and openness has made his condition much easier to manage.

1 in 10
people in the UK experience clinical depression at some point in their lives
Trescothick still plays for his home county of Somerset. Credit: PA
1 in 20
people in the UK experience an anxiety disorder at some point

Many men don't find coming forward so easy, however. According to the NHS, 1 in 5 women has reported a mental health problem, compared with just 1 in 8 men. And yet three times as many men take their own lives as women.

"Women will have had contact with medical services for contraception, pregnancy. They attend the doctors more frequently; they're more comfortable in that environment, whereas men tend to put off going to the doctor. They don't recognise they've got a problem and they don't feel comfortable about where they've got to go to try and sort it out."

– Richard Popp, Manager at the Bristol Sanctuary, a mental health drop-in centre

Watch our full interview with Marcus Trescothick below:

If you think you might be affected by depression or anxiety, Richard Colwill from mental health charity SANE answers some common questions:

What is depression? How do I know if I'm depressed?

Depression is a complex condition and it varies from person to person. But if you are experiencing symptoms, such as persistent low mood, sadness, guilt or low self-esteem that has lasted longer than two weeks, and which is interfering with your daily life, you should consider seeing your GP.

What is anxiety? How do I know if I've got an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety can be a normal response to stressful or difficult situations, such as an exam or job interview. But some people may experience more regular feelings of anxiety that interfere with their daily lives and which are not necessarily linked to any specific event or problem. Along with feeling worried, they may feel restless and struggle to concentrate, sleep or eat well. There might also be more physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, sweating or dizziness.

Anxiety may be experienced on its own (generalised anxiety disorder), or it may be a symptom of another mental health condition, such as social anxiety disorder, PTSD or phobias. Once again, it is important to see your GP if these symptoms are causing you distress.

Therapy or drugs?

The recommended treatments for both anxiety and depression include: psychological therapies such as CBT (which is short-term and goal focussed); longer term therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy; and medications, such as the SSRI antidepressants. You can discuss with your GP what might best suit your needs.

What else helps?

Along with talking therapies and medication, there are lifestyle changes that can help alleviate the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. These might include giving up, or cutting down on, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Regular exercise can also help, as can eating more healthily, and embarking on a self-help course (your GP might be able to advise you of courses you could consider).

How badly are men affected by depression and anxiety?

Depression is very common, affecting as many as 10% of the general population at some point in their lives. While many studies indicate that women are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men, the reality is that it can affect almost anyone.

Men experience generalised anxiety disorder almost as much as women do, with the condition being more common in people in middle age. Overall it may affect as many as 5% of people.

If you would like to talk to someone in confidence, there are helplines such as SANEline (open every day between 4.30pm and 10.30pm on 0300 304 7000), where trained call handlers and therapists can provide emotional support and talk through what options might be available to you.

Here are some other links:

Man Up Man Down is an online forum for men, giving them an opportunity to share their own mental health experiences, and hear from others. Founded by two young campaigners in Bristol.

The Lions Barber Collective is a organisation of top barbers trained to listen to their clients' mental health concerns while they're having their hair cut. Founded by Torquay barber Tom Chapman.

Watch our studio interview with Man Up Man Down founders, Kate and James:

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