As part of the Medicine and Photography Student Selected Component at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (2012), Georgina Wellstead focused on mental health.
‘For my project I have focused on the topic of mental health— particularly depression. This is due to my personal experience of depression, coupled with the fact it is an extremely common illness. One in five of the population develop an episode of depression over their lifetime and I find it saddening that such a common illness is still so stigmatised. In my project I have focused on the idea that, what you see of a person may not be the whole picture and that people with depression may feel they need to conform or hide how they are feeling from the outside world. The word ‘depression’ can be interpreted in many ways; it is used colloquially and by doctors to describe when a person is showing the symptoms of a ‘low mood’. However, doctors and health professionals also use it to refer to a specific ‘depressive illness’. Everyone goes through spells of feeling low but if a person is depressed, they feel persistently down for weeks or even months at a time. Some people still think that depression is not a genuine health condition and this is one of the reasons why people dealing with depression find it hard to confide in others and seek help. Ultimately, this could prove to be dangerous to the patient’s health and wellbeing.
Depression affects each person differently. Their symptoms can range from lasting feelings of hopelessness and sadness, to loss of interest in things previously enjoyed or feeling extremely anxious and tearful. Physical symptoms such as lethargy, disrupted sleep, complaining of aches and pains, loss of appetite and libido can also present. These symptoms may range in severity with the most severely depressed patients having suicidal feelings.
I feel really strongly about making people aware of depression because it can be a very severe and debilitating illness yet, is often not recognised as so. I have created my photographic project using myself as the subject, as I felt that it would be more powerful and meaningful if I tried to share my own experiences of depression through these photographs.’