One of the most controversial subjects for many people is depression. So I thought I would share 5 things that I have learnt about depression from both personal and professional experience…
#1. It’s not the same for everyone
Every case of depression is completely different. Some people with depression can still function to some level on a day to day basis and attend work, others can barely get out of bed. For many people there is a misconception that depression presents with the same symptoms, and some medical professionals still rely on a tick list to diagnose. It is important to recognise these differences and also to not band depression, anxiety and grief as the same thing as each have different qualities, and whilst they may all affect an individual they require different treatment methods. There are no two identical cases which is why if a treatment method does not work for someone they should be encourage to seek others. For many people traditional counselling is simply not enough to find resolution and more integrative techniques are necessary.
#2. It suffocates you slowly – often feeling like having two people in your head
Depression creeps up slowly. What may initially feel like a low mood can slowly suffocate the individual rendering them lost in a world of emotions. The multiple layers of depression can mean that clients have different symptoms on different days or even on occasions. If we look back to my previous blog on trauma we are aware that the brain cannot process some key situations experienced in life and thus we can start to understand that depression is the name of the symptoms created not the cause of the issue and as such the layers of situations/trauma which lead to depression creep up on us and can catch us unaware. For some clients with depression they can feel like her are two people. the person that they ‘were’ pre-depression and the person that they are ‘now’ or one seeking help and one who wants to stay in bed all day.
#3. It’s one of the most misused words in society
‘Depressed’ is possibly one of the most mis-used words in society. It is so easy to absent mindlessly dismiss you feelings as ‘depression’ but depression itself is a much darker and deeper issue. The nature of using it as a term to express feeling low can mean that depression becomes misunderstood and confused so when an individual is diagnosed with depression people assume that they can ‘shake it off’. It is important to spend time identifying how emotions feel, for instance guilt, fear, anxiety, grief, trauma can all cross link with depressive behaviours but can all be treated very differently. The development of the ability to sit with our emotions and label them can be key to seeking out the most effective treatment. If you are unsure how to do this then seeking the support of a qualified therapist can be extremely beneficial.
#4. It doesn’t have to be forever
Whilst some people can suffer with depression for a prolonged period there can be light at the end of the tunnel. However as discussed this relies on the appropriate treatment for that individual. For some CBT can be beneficial, for others BWRT, EFT etc. Researching a range of treatments and speaking with practitioners about these can unlock treatment methods that the individual ma never have considered or been offered. Often medication is the first (and sadly in some cases the only) route offered so seeking out alternatives can be greatly beneficial.
#5. It doesn’t normally have one cause
As depression rarely appears over night but rather creeps up silently on the unexpectant individual it is important to recognise that often this is due to multiple causes. Which should answer the question about why when you ask ‘why are you depressed’ most individuals could not tell you. Depression slowly suffocates the brain, covering it in a fog which begins to render the individual incapable of some tasks. This may affect memory, concentration, social relationships, daily routines, self-care, sleep or work. For some it can be further emphasised by anxiety related symptoms, hoarding, addictions or reliance on other substances to ‘gee’ themselves up. Depression often becomes rooted into our personality and identity with individuals labelling themeless as ‘I am depressed’ and thus remaining in a cycle. Recognising that there may be multiple routes into depression can be fundamental in the treatment of it, and why viewing recovery as more of an approach of peeling an onion until you get to the root than opening a curtain can support those who are on their path to recovery.
If you have a loved one who is suffering with depression here’s 4 things you can do to be supportive:
1. Avoid telling them to ‘get over it’ – there are treatment methods to help individuals overcome and recover from depression but they rarely ‘just get over it’
2. Don’t pressure them to ‘be normal’ and get out the house – somedays it is impossible, other days it is easier. Asking them to be their old self can create isolation, focus on simple activities that you can enjoy.
3. Help with stressful situations – if you look at the brain as being overwhelmed with stress during depression if you see something stressful arise offer to support and help to manage it.
4. If they are open to suggestions signpost them to a range of therapies which they may be interested in
From both personal and professional experience I have watched individuals recover from depression using a range of techniques – CBT, EFT, BWRT, Reiki, Homeopathy, nutritional changes and fitness. Often in a combination approach. There is no cookie cutter approach and it is imperative that the client works at their own pace through their recovery. However once things slide into the positive the therapeutic interventions should continue to support any issues which may arise in the future in that immediate recovery period (and for some individuals they enjoy the connection of their therapist to talk things through confidentially).
For more details on how I help to treat those with depression please visit www.astepatatime.org.uk