Christopher Eccleston health: 'It was a filthy secret' Doctor Who star's health battle

Christopher Eccleston, 55, is a highly respected British actor. His credits include collaborations with directors Danny Boyle and Michael Winterbottom and writers Peter Flannery, Jimmy McGovern and Russell T. Davies. In 2005, the actor drew in new fans when he took up the role of Doctor Who during the show’s revival. While this time marked a milestone in the actor’s career, he was also wrestling with serious mental health issues.

Writing in his new book, I Love the Bones of You, the actor described himself a “lifelong body-hater”, saying he was “very ill” with the condition while filming Doctor Who.

The actor said he never opened up about this health battle because he is a working class northern male.

“Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic,” he wrote.

“I never have. I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I’m northern, because I’m male and because I’m working class.”

He first experienced body image issues as a child, he said, expressing concern at having a “pot belly” and “knobbly knees”.

The father-of-two was diagnosed with clinical depression after splitting from his wife Mischka in 2015 and says it was then that he considered taking his own life.

“I was in a state of extreme anxiety, convinced I was either going to die or I was going to kill myself,” wrote the actor.

He added: “In my despair I reached for my phone and looked up a psychiatric hospital, I rang ahead, grabbed my bag and ran.”

As the NHS explained, clinical depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. “Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days,” explained the health site.

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The symptoms of severe depression, as in Eccleston’s case, can make people feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living, explained the health site.

Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of self-help, talking therapies and medicines. The doctor who star was prescribed antidepressants which he admits he could be on “for the rest of my days”.

Although he admitted: “I would like to attempt slowly to reduce the dose, to experience reality again, to see how I do… And yet, interestingly I have received some of the best reviews of my life since I started taking them.”

A course of antidepressants is usually recommended for moderate to severe depression. There are almost 30 different types available. A GP may also recommend that a person takes a course of antidepressants plus talking therapy, particularly if their depression is quite severe, explained the health body.



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