Saffron Barker health: Strictly star on her personal tragedy and mental health awareness

Saffron Barker, 20, reflects the opportunities that can arise from being a savvy social media user. Just as she was finishing her exams, Saffron was becoming a YouTube sensation, and now millions of users follow her YouTube Channel. The blogger, who provides creative content on beauty, fashion and lifestyle, seems to be on an unstoppable trajectory after landing a place in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

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She may be enjoying fame and success, but the blogger has been through a dark chapter in her life too, and it was this experience that drove her to raise awareness about mental health issues.

Last year Saffron took part in a campaign on combating the stigma surrounding mental health called ‘I am Whole’ and when asked about why she believes mental health issues are important, she revealed a personal tragedy.

Speaking to Ditch the Label, a website dedicated to tackling bullying, Saffron said: “A very close friend of mine committed suicide the year before last and she had mental health issues.

“I feel that if people spoke about it more and were more open about it, it could save someone’s life.

“So many people live with mental health issues and are ashamed to talk about it, I want to help people realise that there’s no shame and most of us will go through it or will know someone close to us that is suffering at some point in our lives.”

As NHS points out, most people feel low sometimes, but if it’s affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.

Support is also available if you’re finding it hard to cope with low mood, sadness or depression.

It is important to recognise the signs of a low mood to seek appropriate treatment and stop the condition from developing into a more serious mental state.

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According to the NHS, symptoms of a low mood include:

  • Sad
  • Anxious or panicky
  • More tired than usual or being unable to sleep
  • Angry or frustrated
  • Low on confidence or self-esteem
  • A low mood often gets better after a few days or weeks but if it persists for two weeks or more, it could be a sign of depression, warns the health site.

Other symptoms of depression may include:

  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Not being able to concentrate on everyday things
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming yourself

Depression can also manifest itself physically, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.

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When to see a doctor

It’s important to seek help from your GP if you think you may be depressed, and the sooner you seek help the better, says the NHS.

As the health body explains, many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it’s best not to delay – the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.

How to treat it

Treatment for depression can involve a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medication, and the best course of action will depend on the nature and severity of the depression.

If you have mild depression, your doctor may suggest waiting to see whether it improves on its own, while monitoring your progress. This is known as “watchful waiting”, says the NHS.

In addition, a GP may also suggest lifestyle measures such as exercise and self-help groups.

Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), are often used for mild depression that is not improving or moderate depression.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

Antidepressants are also sometimes prescribed, and a combination of talking therapy and antidepressants is often recommended to treat moderate to severe forms of depression, says the NHS.

If you you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts or just want someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans anytime on 116 123.

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