Despite ever-increasing prescribing and usage of anti-depressant drugs, rates of depression in the western world continue to rise. As a society, we do not appear to be winning the battle. Perhaps it is time to consider a different approach. I would like suggest that it is better to treat the process and causes of the depressed mindset than it is to simply treat the symptoms. Rather than simply accept that the depressed person has a"chemical imbalance" in their brain, I would prefer we wonder why that should be the case.
No two people's depression is the same, but there are common factors. Irish depression action group "AWARE" use the following convenient "Festival" acronym to list the main symptoms of depression.
The thought processes that underpin these symptoms are complex. Rumination is a common problem - those racing and seemingly uncontrollable thoughts that typically fill the mind when the patient is trying to sleep. There is also frequently a strong sense of lack of control, and of being overwhelmed by the demands of the situation, or of other people. Almost always there seems to be nothing to look forward to in the future, and often too, a sense of guilt for things in the past. The depressed individual often talks in "absolute" terms. "Everyone" is against me, "nothing" works, and so on.
So why don't people just think positively and simply stop being depressed? The difficulty is that most of this process is happening in the unconscious part of the mind. Consciously, the sufferer is acutely aware of the problem, but unable to find a way to deal with it. It's not as simple as "look on the bright side". The depressed mindset can become strangely and illogically comforting - a type of mental anaesthetic that distances the person, from the problems they are having; at least for that part of the time that rumination is not present! Depression can sometimes be quite alluring for the unconscious mind, and quickly can become a habit. At its simplest, the unconscious would perhaps rather be depressed than, say, stressed. Even though it feels horrible, it can seem unconsciously to be better than the perceived alternative, and the new depressed thought patterns begin to take hold causing the brain chemistry to alter to the "imbalance" referred to above.
To deal permanently with depression one needs to change these underlying thought processes, rather than just their chemical consequences. Some of this is done conversationally, but hypnosis is used to access the unconscious part of the mind - which is where the most important changes are needed. Typically therapy takes six or seven sessions - including the making of live recordings of the hypnotic part of the therapy for use later at home. These sessions are based around the following basic principles, but will vary according to the individual sufferer.
- Getting a good night's sleep
- Looking forward to the future in a positive way
- Doing something different
- What is and isn't in my control
- Dealing with guilty feelings
- Learning to draw the line
- Prevention of future lapses into depression
There is a lot more to the process than can be detailed in a short blog post, and I will expand further on these principles in future posts. If you want to know more in the meantime, I offer free, introductory consultations to anyone wanting to be free of depression - so if you want to find out more about how I work and how I can help you, please feel free to call.
021 487 6072