Coronation Street actress and former Loose Woman Denise Welch has offered up advice for people suffering from depression, after revealing that her own battle with the illness has been ongoing for more than two decades.
Speaking to Closer magazine, the 56 year old said, ‘We should encourage people to talk about mental health as much as possible. I try every day to lessen the stigma, that sadly still exists, but I’ve seen huge improvements in people’s attitudes over the last 20 years.’
She also told the magazine that her depression presented itself partially through her struggle with alcoholism.
‘I knew I had a problem with alcohol when I realised I was powerless over it. It was affecting my relationships with family and loved ones,’ she explained. ‘The root cause of my addiction was the onset of my battle with clinical depression, which started 26 yrs ago after childbirth.’
Denise eventually began attending Alcoholics Anonymous, and managed to overcome her addiction to alcohol, but found herself replacing her previous vice with food, gradually gaining around two stone in weight – at which point, she sought the help of another support group.
‘I turned to LighterLife to help me address my relationship with food. I didn’t just want to lose weight, I wanted to change my attitude to food so that I could nip a potential lifelong addiction in the bud,’ she said.
In overcoming her alcoholism, Denise says she developed a new ‘addiction’ to food, but now has her weight under control
Denise now has control over her weight, and also recently gave up smoking after 40 years using the techniques she’d learned in her LighterLife group.
However, in a previous interview with BT, she said that although she ‘feels freer from her mental health issues in her 50s than she did in her 30s and 40s’, Denise knows that whilst ‘addressing alcohol and food have all helped in my battle with it, my mental health issues are still there and always will be.’ The mum of two told Closer than she now manages her illness with medication – ‘I now receive help hormonally, something I had asked for for 20 years,’ she says – and as an ambassador for mental health charity Mind, she wants anyone else experiencing the symptoms of depression to know that there is help available.
‘If someone you know is suffering just let them know you are there for them. Tell them they are not alone and there is help out there.’
‘Tell them they WILL get better and that there is light at the end of what can be a very dark tunnel.’