Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy for Treating Depression

Can Hypnotherapy be used for treating depression?

Since 2002 I have been successfully working with people who were suffering from depression. This article will explain how the deep relaxation of therapeutic hypnosis is a good tool for a well trained, experienced psychotherapist.

This page offers information, support and treatment for Depression. If you or a loved one needs help to recover from depression, please read about how I can help – or call me to discuss your situation.

Did you know?

Depression is one of the fastest growing disorders? Consequently it has become the most commonly reported condition of suffering in the western world. If you are living with depression, you’re not alone. Depression (and anxiety disorders) are considered to have reached epidemic proportions.

What is it Like to be Depressed?

People who suffer from depression often feel as though something is robbing them of life or disabling their ability to live well. As a result sufferers often feel that the easiest way to cope is to withdraw from all of the potential stressors even though it keeps them separate from a meaningful life. Depression makes day to day living feel overwhelming. People with Depression have difficulty thinking about a future that is free of debilitating feelings. Depression makes it hard to imagine any solutions or possibilities of the future.

Understanding Depression

Other people can find it hard to understand what a depressed person may be going through and it can sometimes appear to be a self-indulgent condition. Carers are usually doing their best to help by trying to ‘be positive’ or ‘look on the bright side’ or trying to get the person involved in social events. Unfortunately, these tactics are often counter-productive and sometimes create tensions. The best thing you can do as a starting point is to listen, without offering a solution.

What is Depression?

Depression is a ‘mood disorder’. It is a serious condition and if it lasts over a prolonged period of time, it can result in poor physical, emotional and psychological health.[1]  In really extreme cases depression can be life threatening.  However, the good news is that the most up to date research into depression tells us that there is a lot that can be done to help and that you do not have to live with this condition. Nor do you have to use drugs to feel relief.  Interestingly, it is now known that depression is not a genetic condition, nor is it the result of a chemical imbalance.[2]*

Can I Recover from Depression?

As someone who has suffered from depression in the past and as a successful therapist, I want to tell you that in my experience, depression is treatable. It is possible to live well. With the right help you can feel better and enjoy life. When you are feeling better, you will sleep more soundly, you will start the day feeling more awake and have more energy and motivation for the things that you want to do.

What is the right help?

There are so many different models of therapy that are available for treating depression, it is difficult to know which approach is right for you. So, on this page I’d like to keep it simple.

A Strategic Approach

The best approach with depression is to have a strategic plan.  In the beginning you will be gently moving forward step by step, using helpful and easily achieved strategies. Therapy works with clearly defined outcomes. In each session we identify and agree on a goal that that you feel will take you in the right direction. It is also important that the treatment has a way of reducing the difficult emotions of depression, such as deep relaxation or hypnosis. Without being able to reduce the difficult emotions it is much harder to change the experience of depression, even with cognitive behavioural work or counselling. Good therapy teaches you coping skills and strategies for maintaining emotional balance. You will build a mental and emotional vision of a hopeful and resourceful future.[3]*  Your therapist will support you every step of the way, without judgement and with care and understanding.

Neurons That Fire Together, Wire Together

Any talking therapy that focuses solely on the story of the depression – i.e. your history or all the reasons why you are depressed, without using any emotional ease or goal centred strategy is likely to make depression worse.  Every time you revisit the story and feelings, you are effectively sealing the bond in the brain structures that fire off the depression. This isn’t to suggest that there is no counselling element to a good depression treatment but more to understand that it’s useful to know when to start thinking ahead and rehearsing for a life that is free of depression.

My Preferred Approach to Treating Depression

The Human Givens (HG) therapy model is one approach that I use in treating depression. It is a tried and tested method that can help to lift your mood quickly.* HG is a solid psychotherapy based on up to date information, so that you can feel better quickly.*

Deep Relaxation

An important skill for lifting depression is the use of deep relaxation to ease the emotions, whilst offering you important, helpful information and teaching you skills and strategies that will enable you to maintain your well-being.

The combined use of Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy have an excellent track record for lifting depression because they help you to reduce your immediate experience of suffering by using hypnosis to help you feel more relaxed.*  .

Further reading about Depression and FAQs

However we define it, the reality for depression sufferers is that it robs them of life, of purpose, enthusiasm, hope and a sense of being in control. Most people will experience bouts of depressed mood at some time in their lives but there is a difference between feeling down for a while and being depressed.

Is Depression Serious?

The reason depression can be a serious condition is because the sufferer is living with a strong, ongoing state of difficult emotions. Paradoxically, many sufferers will say that when they are in deep depression, they feel numb.  But the research is clear; depression is a state of high emotional arousal and if this heightened state is sustained over a long period of time it will result in poor physical, emotional and psychological health.

Changed Perspectives

When high emotions are dominant, changes in brain function mean that people are less capable of seeing true perspectives of their problems and less able to find solutions. People feel powerless and without a sense of control.  Depression leads to poor self-image and a sense that even if you were able to lift the depression you would still be unworthy or not capable enough.  This is a distorted perspective is the thief of of optimism and motivation, so no matter how well-meaning family and friends are in supporting and helping, a depressed person is likely to think “what’s the point?”     It’s not their fault, it’s the depression talking.

As well as being an emotional affliction, the strong emotions of depression are damaging to physical and psychological health.  (For more information about this aspect, see my ‘stress’ page).

How do I know if I’m depressed?

The most obvious pointer is that you will have been feeling very low for a while, with a sense that it is not lifting. This low state will have begun to impact on your quality of life. However, here are some common symptoms and if you are regularly experiencing a number of these, you may be depressed.

  • Depressed mood
  • Profound sadness or excessive focus on past hurts
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Appetite disruption – eating less or more than usual
  • Disturbed sleep
  • increased dreaming
  • Loss of energy, especially in the mornings
  • Lowered libido
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation
  • Finding it difficult to think, concentrate, recall things.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by simple tasks
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or remorse
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Reduced pain threshold or unexplained aches and pains
  • Anxious or worrisome thoughts
  • Loss of confidence and esteem

How do you get depressed?

It used to be believed that depression was the result of a chemical imbalance, and that lowered amounts of the neurotransmitter serotonin, were causing the person to feel depressed. More recent studies have now revealed that low serotonin is a symptom of depression, not the cause.  Depression is the result of high stress, leading to worry.  People who have a tendency to worry generally find that they dream more during their sleep cycle.  Increased dreaming reduces the amount of good quality sleep, consequently they wake tired and exhausted which leads to a greater likelihood of more worry. This becomes a cycle, resulting in depression.

My mother has depression, have I inherited it from her?

In the 1990’s, the Human Genome Project set about years of study and research, in the hope of finding a ‘gene for everything’. Scientists were surprised to find that there is no depression gene. Furthermore “The marked increase in the rate of depression revealed in epidemiological studies itself shows that depression cannot be a biological disease carried in our genes. Genes do not change that quickly.” (Human Givens, Griffin & Tyrrell, p242).

If there is good news about this understanding, it is that depression is only likely to be passed from parent to child as a learned behaviour. With the right intervention and support, that behaviour can be unlearned, and more helpful behaviours can be learned in place.

So, if it’s not a chemical imbalance or a biological inheritance, what is it?

It is true that a person suffering from depression will have low serotonin levels, though this is the result of prolonged emotional arousal, not the cause. (For more in depth reading see “How to Lift Depression (” by Joe Griffin & Ivan Tyrrell). There are many situations that can trigger the sort of emotional responses that can lead to depression. Bereavement, divorce, redundancy, bankruptcy etc., will have an understandable emotional impact. So why is it that some people who experience these things fall victim to depression, whilst others may have a similar experience and do not?

Research into Depression

Research shows that a significant factor for depression lies in the thought processes; how the person relates to the events they are experiencing. You are more likely to fall into depression if you have learned to take things personally, to worry that things will never change, or to blame yourself. Consequently there is likely to be a strong internal focus of attention that cannot unhook from the thoughts about personal experience of feelings.  High emotions and negative thinking will create a tendency to ruminate (chew the same negative, emotional thoughts over and over).

These ruminations keep the emotions running high because the thoughts are feeding the emotions. When low mood and high emotions become the regular daily experience, it begins to have a negative impact on your view of yourself and your potential for the future.  In fact, many depression sufferers cannot envisage a future.

Recommended Reading

For more detailed reading about the subject of depression, I highly recommend the book How to Lift Depression ( by Joe Griffin & Ivan Tyrrell.  This book will give you more detail about the mechanics of depression and will also explain other common depression experiences such as sleep disruption, excessive dreaming, morning exhaustion and low levels of serotonin.

The HG approach is strongly in favour of helping the sufferer to re-engage with life so that the essential emotional needs are richly met through living well.

What Else Can Help?

Another significant, yet often over-looked ingredient in depression is nutrition.  What we forget is that in order to make chemicals such as serotonin, endorphins or dopamine, the body needs the raw materials – good quality food in adequate quantities.  Eat quality proteins like chicken, turkey or tofu; a colourful variety of vegetables and fruits, wholefood carbohydrates and essential oils such as omega 3, 6 & 9.  (Recommended reading:  The Food and Mood Handbook by Amanda Geary). Solution focused psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, combined with supportive, practical strategies can have a profoundly helpful impact on lifting that depression.*

For more information about your options in treating depression, please see this website:

You can call and talk to me about how therapy can help you to overcome anxiety before you make an appointment, I will be happy to tell you more about what to expect – 01273 500136*

Arrange a Skype Session if you cannot get to my office.
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Some good reading:
Below I have listed a selection of helpful reading for depression sufferers or their family/carers.  Simply click on the thumbnail and it will take you directly to the Amazon page.

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