SINGER Frankie Sandford has revealed that she has been suffering from depression for eight years.
The Saturdays star, who is currently dating footballer Wayne Bridge, has opened up for the first time about the reason for her mysterious absence from the five-piece band late last year.
The 23-year-old has told about how her illness has affected her since she was 15 and admitted that it has caused her to stop eating, have panic attacks and feel "worthless".
"It all started when I was about 15 or 16. I used to stay in bed a lot and had no motivation.
"Since childhood, I've been an over-thinker, and I used to make myself sick with worrying ... So there was a part of me thinking I was putting it on, that I wasn't properly sick, and only sick people should be in hospital," Frankie divulged.
"I got so good at covering it up, I didn't confide in anyone. Firstly, you don't think anyone will understand; secondly, you wouldn't want to bother anyone with it; you feel so worthless."
Currently fronting Glamour magazine's Hey, It's Ok campaign with a British mental health charity, Una Healy's pal sought treatment in October 2011 and received one-to-one counselling as well as group therapy.
Now on medication, she added: "If people spoke honestly to each other, they'd realise a lot of their friends have problems like mine.
"[In hospital] was the first time I felt I was among people who really understood me."
The singer enjoyed her first taste of fame at 12 in teen pop group S Club 8.
"I'd always had this thing about my friends and family, that I haven't made enough time for them because I've been working since I was 12."