Depression and anaemia: A cruel combination.

I’ve talked a lot about my depression in the past, but I’ve never mentioned the fact that I’m anaemic. So what is anaemia?

Iron deficiency anaemia occurs when there is a lack of iron in the body. This lack of iron contributes to a decrease in red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body to your organs. It isn’t life threatening but if left untreated can cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms. The most common is probably fatigue, but symptoms vary in different people. I can only talk about my symptoms which were:

Fatigue

Heart palpitations

Headaches

Itchy skin

Pale dull skin

Yeah, not nice I know.

So, why am I anaemic?

My anaemia is all thanks to my heavy periods, which alone can be horrendous. The first day of my cycle, I’m scared to leave the house. I remember one shift in work where I bled straight through my underwear, trousers and on to the chair – having to explain that to my male manager was probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. To make matters worse, I never knew that it wasn’t normal to bleed so much until I spoke to friends who described a completely different experience. I’ve been suffering for years, and I wasn’t aware there were options to help me.

My anaemia was only picked up on in pregnancy through having regular blood tests, but I just assumed that it wasn’t that serious, as it’s quite common for pregnant women to experience. By the end of my pregnancy, my iron levels were dangerously low.

During my C-section with Max I lost 900mls of blood, and that was just in theatre. I was advised to take my iron and I did, but I was also being sick a lot. I continued to lose a lot of blood, until one day in the bathroom, a few days after being discharged, I collapsed in a heap on the floor.

I can’t remember much during that time, I was groggy and tired anyways just from having a newborn baby and breastfeeding. I had no idea I was so close to having a blood transfusion. Luckily though, I was given an anti sickness injection and fluids in a drip and was able to begin to keep food and drink down.

I was then given an iron transfusion, and I practically skipped and jumped out of that hospital – I felt like a new woman! The difference in me was incredible. At this point though, I was totally unaware that my periods were contributing to my anaemia, and I believed it was the blood loss from the operation. So, I didn’t continue with the supplements.

Apologies for that lengthy introduction, but now I’ve given you a bit of background I can get round to the point at hand. Dealing with depression & anaemia and the links between the twoWhen I think about it now, I was probably suffering for many years. The tricky thing is, the symptoms overlap. Depression also causes fatigue and lack of concentration, and anxiety and panic can cause heart palpitations. So it’s difficult to know, which came first. But the link between the two, explained so much for me personally.

I suffer with depression as a symptom of my bipolar anyway, but being anaemic was making it ten times worse. I have suffered needlessly and all I needed to do was take some tablets, that’s all. I can’t even begin to describe how debilitating it is to suffer with both of these. I was so fatigued it felt as though I had the flu, I could barely lift my arms and walking up the stairs felt daunting. I slept for hours and hours and still woke up feeling tired. My hair begin to thin, my skin was grey and dull, I had no concentration and I was extremely groggy and agitated as a result.

Since taking my meds for my depression, and regularly taking my iron tablets I’ve felt so much better. I still suffer with a few side effects from my meds, like headaches, nausea and sweating but it’s miles better than the alternative. Plus, as the days go by those side effects seem to be easing off.

I wanted to share my experience of this whole ordeal because I had no idea the of the knock on affect it had on me, and I want to highlight how important it is. If you’ve identified with anything I’ve said then I would recommend going to your doctors for a simple blood test, because there is no need to suffer like I did, for so long.

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