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Specialist Depression Service - Supporting people to overcome a serious and persistent illness

The Nottingham Specialist Depression Service (NSDS) team is a mix of professionals who support patients with individually-designed medical and psychotherapy interventions.

The service has been specifically developed to support people who are experiencing persistent depression whilst receiving treatment in secondary care psychiatric services.

Pippa’s story

Pippa, from Nottingham, has been cared for by the Nottingham Specialist Depression Service (NSDS) and says: “The service has literally been a lifesaver for me at least twice.”

Pippa first experienced depression as a teenager and is now in her 50s. She said: “My journey has seen me experiencing postnatal depression after the birth of both my children, followed by self-harming. I was included in the clinical trial of the specialist depression service and have been with the service more than once since.

“I came under its care most recently in 2020, with support from both a consultant psychiatrist to look after my medication and a therapist for talking therapies.

“My consultant psychiatrist knew about the range of medications available for people with treatment resistant depression like mine, and he was willing to try different courses of treatment, ask about my preferences, explain things in detail, and keep an eye on me. There have been times when certain meds have become unavailable and we’ve had to try another one and he remained in contact almost daily to make sure I was coping.”

The approach to therapy is also something that’s worked for Pippa, who was diagnosed with autism in her early 50s. She said that her therapist built her diagnosis into the therapy he offered and was accepting and curious as it put a new light on things.

“It was like we had a new lens to look through – not just following a protocol, but also looking at what works for me, doing lots of research and being flexible in practice,” said Pippa. “Also, the team receptionist is lovely and helpful, and I never felt judged or not welcome.”

Pippa was discharged around a year ago. She said: “The service is tailored and expert, and the team are incredibly good at what they do. For example, my therapist was flexible in understanding that not all aspects of CBT work for me and pulling in other techniques when needed, and access has been excellent – I usually only waited a day or two for contact with my consultant psychiatrist if needed.”

Pippa is a writer who works in publishing and arranges projects that support creative writing in schools. She has been with First Story for a year now and Five Leaves for 12 years. She says that the service made her well enough to apply for her current role at First Story. She has been well for over a year now and for the first time since childhood she feels mentally robust enough to cope with anything that comes her way.

Pippa concluded: “I would recommend this service to anyone with treatment resistant or recurrent depression – this is the absolute gold standard, I have never come across anything else anywhere near close.”

Richard Alvey, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, said: “Depression often comes with added mental health complexity, for example people may also have anxiety and personality disorders, PTSD or part of another condition such as bipolar disorder. We can offer a focus for those people with more than one diagnosis, if they want to work on their depression.

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