If you are currently suffering from depression you are not alone. Depression is now the fastest growing disorder and has become the most commonly reported condition of suffering in the western world. Depression (and anxiety disorders) can now be considered to have reached epidemic proportions.
People who suffer from depression may be feeling as though something is robbing them of life or disabling their ability to live well. Often, depressed people feel that the easiest way to cope is to withdraw from all potential stressors even though it keeps them separate from meaningful engagement of life. Depression makes it very difficult for a person to think about solutions or about the possibilities of the future.
It can be very difficult for other people to understand what a depression sufferer may be going through and it can sometimes appear to be a self-indulgent condition. Those who care are usually doing their best to help by trying to ‘be positive’ or ‘look on the bright side’ or try to get the person involved in social events. Unfortunately, these tactics are often counter-productive and sometimes create tensions.
Depression is a ‘mood disorder’. It is a serious condition and if it is sustained over a prolonged period of time, can result in poor physical, emotional and psychological health. In extreme cases depression can become life threatening. However, the good news is that the most up to date research into depression tells us that you do not have to live with this condition, nor do you have to use drugs to feel relief. It is now known that depression is not a genetic condition, nor is it the result of a chemical imbalance.*
As a former depression sufferer, I want to tell you that in my experience, depression is treatable and you can learn to live well. With the right help you can feel better and enjoy life. When you are feeling better, you will sleep more soundly, start the day feeling more awake and have more energy for the things that you want to do.
What is the right help?
There are so many different models of therapy that are available, it is difficult to know which approach is right for you. So, to keep it simple, the best approach to treating depression is a therapy that is a strategic, outcome orientated, goal centred therapy. It is also important that the therapeutic approach offers a strategy for reducing the emotional arousal of depression, such as deep relaxation or hypnosis. Without being able to reduce the emotional arousal it is very difficult to change the experience of the sufferer, even with cognitive behavioural work or counselling. Good therapy will also give you coping skills and strategies for maintaining emotional balance and helping you to build a mental and emotional vision of a more hopeful and resourceful future.*
Any talking therapy that focuses on the story of the depression – i.e. your history or all the reasons why you are depressed, without any goal centred strategy is likely to make the depression worse. This is because neurons that fire together wire together. Every time you revisit the story and feelings, you are effectively sealing the bond in the brain structures that fire off the depression.
The Human Givens therapy model is one approach that I use in treating depression and is a tried and tested method that can help to lift your mood quickly.* The treatment uses a solid psychotherapy approach based on up to date information about depression, so that you can feel better quickly.* An important part of this approach to lifting depression is to use deep relaxation to lower the arousal and to offer you important and helpful information and teach you skills and strategies that will enable you to maintain your better state.
Some psychotherapy models, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy have been thought of as effective in transforming the experience of depression. However, 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 at ease.* This is essential if you are to fully access cognitive behavioural function to reduce and change the key depression drivers.
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.
The reason depression is such a serious condition is because the sufferer is sustaining a strong, ongoing state of high emotional arousal. 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.
When high emotions are so dominant, changes in brain function mean that people are less capable of seeing true perspectives of their problems and less able to find solutions. They feel powerless and have no sense of control. Depression is a debilitating state that cultivates poor self image and a sense that even if they were able to lift the depression they would still be unworthy or not capable enough. This distorted perspective robs the person of optimism and motivation, so no matter how well meaning their family and friends are in supporting and helping them, 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.
“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 (..fast)” by Joe Griffin & Ivan Tyrrell).
There are many situations that can trigger the sort of emotional responses that can lead to the debilitation of 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 shows that a significant ingredient 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. Additionally, 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.
For more detailed reading about the subject of depression, I highly recommend the book How to Lift Depression (..fast) 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.
In trying to prevent or treat depression, a significant factor is to be aware of the importance of meeting your basic needs.
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*