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Advice on Dealing with Stress and Depression

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Former pupil Dr Lynne Daly (1965-1973) delivered a very useful PSHEE lesson to Y11 girls, offering them advice and techniques for dealing with stress and depression. Following a lifetime in the NHS and working for the Ministry of Justice as a Consultant Adolescent Forensic Psychiatrist, Dr Daly returned to Bolton School to talk to Year 11 girls in a lively and interactive session held in the girls' theatre. She explained how our bodies are built for “fight or flight” in stressful situations and with the help of pupils began to gradually unravel some of the effects of anxiety. Various symptoms were discussed, including an increased heart rate, an adrenalin rush, tension, forgetfulness, confusion, heavier breathing, losing things, feeling nauseous, visiting the toilet and worrying. For anyone suffering with breathlessness, Dr Daly offered the useful tip of breathing into a brown paper bag as this will allow you to build up the carbon dioxide in your bloodstream again. It was pointed out that a little stress can be a good thing for all of us, allowing us to perform better. However, too much and it becomes a real problem. 

Strategies for dealing with stress ranged from sitting still and breathing, to physical exercise and indulging oneself in hobbies to playing or listening to music and talking with friends and family or with teachers and school counsellors or charities such as Young Minds or Teenage Health Freak. 

The topic of depression was also discussed candidly. Whereas occasional stress is normal, if one still feels anxious once the stressor has been removed then this can be a sign of depression. People can become very self-conscious and believe that nobody likes them or they may have issues with how they look. Depression takes away our ability to enjoy things such as socialising or partying. Personal hygiene may well deteriorate and people lose interest in themselves. At the severe end of the symptoms is catastrophic thinking, occasionally auditory hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. At this point, help should be sought!  

Dr Daly graduated from Cambridge with a Medicine degree before working for the NHS and Ministry of Justice where she latterly dealt with boys with psychiatric problems who had attacked or were in danger of attacking others. She currently sits on a parole board which reviews whether prisoners serving lifetime sentences should be allowed back into the community.

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