Before I go into the subject, symptoms and effects of depression I would like to let you know that depression is a treatable condition. With the right help you can begin to think and feel differently, even if you feel that you can never change. It is important for you to remember that we aren’t born depressed but through a series of negative events coupled with the way that we worry, dwell, ruminate and catastrophise about aspects of our lives, we begin to forge negativity within ourselves and also see it in the world around us.
However, we can re program this way of distorted thinking. It takes a little time but if you are determined to overcome depression there should be no reason why you cannot conquer this affliction and put it behind you forever.
What Causes Depression?
Well, that’s really dependent on the individual and their circumstances. There is a suggestion that Biology has an influence over the way we feel, does it run in the family, for example. There are other factors that may contribute to depression but not cause it, chemical imbalances in the brain is another example. But realistically it is your life’s experiences that have a bearing on the chemicals in your brain, how you solve problems in your life, how you cope with life and the decisions that you make. It is known that people who are prone to depression very often make poor decisions that then lead to depression, or make the depression even worse.
It is also about how you see yourself in your life and the world in which you live; do you see yourself as always unlucky, a victim in life or having no power to be able to alter the things in your life?
Depression also affects the relationships you have in your life too, whether it’s with your children, husband, wife or partner and strained relationships can only make matters worse.
More often than not the depressed individual feels lost in the world and with a sense of hopelessness or helplessness, with the belief that there is nothing that can be done to help themselves (I have already mentioned at the top of the page that this is not true, embracing the change and taking steps towards pulling yourself out of this rut can only lead to a much more positive outcome).
I mentioned genetics before and it is known that genetics can play a part in depression but it is more likely to spurred on by the interactions you have within your family rather than the hereditary itself. Is the family unit you are a part of positive, happy, playful, supportive? Are your family tolerant of your problems or do they ignore your problems?
We learn our morale code from our parents, we learn our skills from them but we also learn our core beliefs from our parents or significant others (such as teachers). These are beliefs about who we are as an individual, and the things that parents and significant others say to you as a young child can have a remarkable effect on the way we live our lives later on in life. Examples of core beliefs are:
- I will never amount to anything
- I must not fail
- I am un-teachable
- People must like me
- I am stupid
- I always get things wrong
- I am worthless
- I am not special
- I must not show my emotions
So, if for example your parents were hard driving and were always disappointed with your school results than you may have a belief that nothing you do is good enough, or that you don’t do anything right.
If your parents were distant and didn’t show you enough love and attention then you may have a belief that you are unlovable as a person, making relationships harder for you. These core beliefs can lead to and indeed, maintain the depression.
Other contributing factors towards depression are:
Physical and mental abuse throughout your life, or in early life may lead to depression.
Continual conflict within your daily life such as disputes with family, work or even neighbours can cause a real disruption in your levels of happiness and therefore lower your mood significantly.
Bereavement can also cause depression through continual grief and sadness. This is of course a natural emotion but may lead to depression in some people.
Significant events in your life can add to negative emotions even though they be seen as positive, for example: Getting married, starting a new job, starting a new school as well as moving house, redundancy or even retiring from work.
There are numerous personal problems, which may impact upon the way we think and feel, such as loneliness, isolation or perhaps a physical impairment has limited the way you used to live your life, so you can no longer get out and about or interact with people you used to. Illnesses and physical problems can lead to an increase in negative thinking.
And, there is substance abuse, whether it be alcohol or drug misuse. It is reported that some 30% of individuals in this category have major depression!
What can be done to help depression?
There are a number of options available to the individual suffering with depression and it helps if that person acknowledges that they have depression by firstly getting advice from their general practitioner (you may even take the simple test at the bottom of the page to see if you have depression, but you must always get it checked out with your physician).
Medication plays a big role in treating the symptoms of depression. There are a number of medications available and sometimes you ma have to try a few before you find one that works for you. Anti depressants work by inhibiting the chemical serotonin from being used up. Serotonin is our mood-enhancing chemical and if we lack this hormone then our mood is significantly lowered.
There is a particular type of drug called an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), which works to block all the serotonin being used up. Examples of SSRI are:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac, Prozac Weekly, Selfemra, Sarafem)
- Fluvoxamine (Faverin, Luvox, Luvox CR)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Then there are MAOI’s which are slightly older in use and tend to alter more chemicals in the brain than SSRI’s. Examples are:
Some people are really against taking medication as they feel it will alter their minds in a really negative way, however, there is some great research which indicates that taking medication for the symptoms along with therapy (CBT for example) has a far greater chance of long term success in overcoming depression. Of course, medications aren’t for everyone and it is important to say that you can overcome depression without the need for meds, but this is between you and your doctor, psychotherapists, counsellors, hypnotherapists and psychologists are not allowed to diagnose your condition, nor are we allowed to prescribe medication, and we certainly wouldn’t go behind your doctors back and recommend that you stop a medication. It should always be checked with your GP.
Therapy is the other option, and there are so many different types of therapy out there all different but with the same principle of getting the individual back to a healthy and productive way of thinking and behaving.
One of the most recognised is that of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), this has been researched the most and there is a lot of scientific statistics to support its effectiveness as a relatively brief therapy, hence the reason the NHS in the UK choose CBT to treat cases of depression. But it is personal choice and is as much about finding a therapist you feel comfortable talking to as the actual school of therapy itself.
Hypnotherapy is a great tool in uncovering your unconscious thoughts and feelings and very often I use it to locate the core belief that you have about yourself. Incorporating CBT and hypnosis together is a very powerful mix of therapeutic techniques, but it should be remembered that it isn’t magic. You need to be realistic with whatever therapy you choose. Deep depression isn’t going to disappear in 5 sessions. It can take between 12 to 18 sessions to treat deep depression and you will be able to monitor your progress as you go along on the journey.
CBT and Hypnotherapy together, aims to look and assess the way you think. Because the way we think has a bearing on the way we feel. So if we choose to worry about something (which in itself is a coping strategy) then we will almost certainly feel some form of negative emotion such as, anxiety, sadness, frustration, fear and so on.
Because of these negative emotions, we then behave in a certain way, we may avoid the situation that causes us the anxiety for example.
So, we aim to restructure that way that you think, so that you see the thought from a new perspective, a more helpful and beneficial perspective. This then helps you to feel a little more positive and in turn reduces the negative behaviour and you gently form new and more positive behaviours.
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