Chizzy Akudolu health: Former Holby City star on the ‘black dog’ of depression

Chizzy Akudolu is a British actress – famed for her time playing a consultant surgeon on TV drama Holby City. But away from the studio lights, the star’s shine was dwindling.

The 46-year-old confessed to struggling with her mental health after quitting Holby City in 2018.

Speaking to Press Association at the time, she said: “The ‘black dog’ of depression has come back.

“It’s come out of the blue, there’s no apparent reason for it.”


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A sense of hopelessness, Chizzy continued: “I guess it is what it is.

“It comes to stay and there’s nothing I can do about it until it leaves.”

Mental Health charity MIND defines “the black dog of depression” as “a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life”.

There are different classifications of depression: mild, moderate and severe.

These categories describe the degree to which symptoms are affecting your day-to-day life.

The charity continues: “In its mildest form, depression can mean just being low in spirits.

“It makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile.”

Specifically, MIND recognises depression as a low mood that doesn’t shift after a couple of weeks.

Or, you may suffer from a low mood that repeatedly comes back for a few days at a time.

MIND lists common signs and symptoms of depression as follows, you may feel:

  • down, upset or tearful
  • restless, agitated or irritable
  • guilty, worthless and down on yourself
  • empty and numb
  • isolated and unable to relate to other people
  • finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy
  • a sense of unreality
  • no self-confidence or self-esteem
  • hopeless and despairing
  • suicidal

There are behavioural shifts that may take place in someone with the illness too. These are:

  • avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy
  • self-harming or suicidal behaviour
  • difficulty speaking, thinking clearly or making decisions
  • losing interest in sex
  • difficulty remembering or concentrating on things
  • using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual
  • difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • feeling tired all the time
  • no appetite and losing weight, or eating too much and gaining weight
  • physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
  • moving very slowly, or being restless and agitated


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An episode of severe depression may lead to psychotic episodes. These can include:

  • Delusions, such as paranoia
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices

Speaking out about her own experience of depression, Chizzy added: “By being open about it, I hope I help people realise that they’re not alone in going through this.”

She recalled her first episode: “My depression first came on in the middle of Holby, when I was at my happiest, so it doesn’t always relate to what’s going in your life.

“I worked and carried on throughout, but it was tough.”

MIND states there are several ideas about what causes depression. These are:

  • Childhood events
  • Life events
  • Other mental health problems
  • Phsyical health problems
  • Genetic inheritance
  • Medication, recreational drugs and alcohol
  • Sleep, diet and exercise

The charity attests: “Some find that they become depressed without any obvious reason.”

From May 18-24, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week – with this year’s theme being kindness.

To find out how you can get involved visit the Mental Health Foundation.

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