“The taboo is the big villain of the piece”

Name: Christian Dahlström
Age: 30
Occupation: Freelance writer and author of the book Panikångest & depression. Runs the Sinnessjukt podcast.

Christian Dahlström. Photo: Mattias Ahlm

As told to Cecilia Odlind, first publsihed in the magazine "Medicinsk Vetenskap" no 2, 2016.

“I was 21 years old when I succumbed to depression. I sought help pretty quickly. Following a ten minute conversation, I was offered antidepressants. But my mother abused pills and I had heard and read a lot of negative things about the medications; in addition, I knew that therapy had the equivalent effect against the type of depression I had. I therefore wanted to start by trying therapy. I was told that the resources were not available.

Gradually, I was nonetheless able to go into CBT, both in a group and individually. It was really good, but didn't help me get out of my depression completely. After five years, I finally took an SSRI. It was really hard in the period after taking the medication, but I got well quite quickly. I've been taking antidepressants since then.

I really recommend that depressed people seek help, but am also worries that they get the same treatment I did. A lot of courage and power is required to seek help, but you must also get help when you do.

The drugs available are really no miracle cure and unfortunately do not work for everyone. In the future, I hope that greater knowledge about the brain can result in better drugs and more opportunities to treat different types of depression with precision. But this requires a lot more to be invested in initiatives to tackle mental ill health. If this is to happen, I think it is important that we talk openly about these issues. I think that the big villain of the piece is the taboo. Those who suffer are silent and do not set the same requirements, this makes it easier to ignore them. But purely from an economic perspective, this is a bad deal. A total of 20 per cent of the population suffer from depression at some point in their lives, but it is far from an equivalent proportion of the healthcare and research budgets focused on this. This is really remarkable.”