“Tis nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
Despite all the great improvements in wealth, education, health, leisure and technology over in the past 50 years, the statistics about depression in the modern world make rather grim reading:
- As many as 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in our lives, with depression being the most likely form (affecting 1 in 5 of us);
- According to the UN it will soon be the world’s second biggest illness in terms of sufferers, a startling figure since it is largely in the western, industrialized world with falling populations that depression is highest and on the rise. (In traditional cultures such as tribes in New Guinea depression is virtually unknown, perhaps because there is less opportunity for someone to feel lonely and isolated.)
- Depression cases have increased some 10 fold and more in the past 50 years
- Suicide rates in young people are also 10 times higher than 50 years ago.
As it is something that affects or has affected so many people, including the rich and famous like Stephen Fry and J K Rowling, awareness and understanding of depression is slowly but surely changing for the better. But attitudes to depression still leave a lot to be desired and the stigma of depression is unfortunately still a primary reason why many people fail to seek treatment.
Depression in my own experience is a horrible condition that robs people of enjoyment in life. It is often bleak, frightening and exhausting physically as well as mentally; it sucks out hope, stops people from putting things into perspective and creates prisoners of despair. Little surprise then that many depressed people are left wondering what they have ever done to deserve such a harsh sentence in this cruel prison of the mind.
Pete – 6 Feb 2012
To say Gerry saved my life would be an understatement. He not only saved it he turned it round completely! I’d suffered depression for most of my life and it had ruined several relationships and left me suicidal. After my first session with Gerry I was a changed man. Happy, relaxed and confident. After four sessions I was dancing and singing all day and enjoying life to the full. I cannot recommend Gerry’s services highly enough.
But there is hope. Depression does not have to be a life sentence in this prison of the mind. It can at least be made manageable, for example Winston Churchill learned to live and function well despite frequent visits by his ‘black dog’. More importantly, it can be overcome entirely and people can emerge from the experience much wiser, stronger and better than ever before.
Some people break free of depression all by themselves through exercise, diet, relationship and lifestyle changes and useful forms of self-help such as meditation practice. There is certainly much to admire and learn much from those who succeed with the ‘DIY’ route. However, most people need some help to overcome it – and hypnotherapy is a very effective form of help, since it is all to do with enabling someone to change how they think, feel and act for the better. It starts and ends with the mind, and hypnosis is a powerful key to unlocking and restoring it.
Depression is triggered by different things- sometimes there may be an obvious reason for becoming depressed, sometimes not. There is usually more than one cause and different people have different reasons. There may be life events or changes in circumstance such as a relationship breakdown, job loss or significant stress at work, bereavement or even the birth of a child – but sometimes it’s not clear at all. People may not even realise how depressed they are, because their depression has come on gradually. They may try to struggle on and cope by keeping busy, making themselves even more stressed and exhausted. Either way, someone gets to the point that it so bad that they need help.
Depression is also a feature of many other illnesses and conditions, which may need to be checked for with medical tests and investigations. These ‘organic’ causes include underactive or overactive thyroid gland; vitamin B12 deficiency; viral infections, brain injury and chronic painful diseases such as osteoarthritis. Yet having a serious illnesses or trauma doe not guarantee depression – it is not what happens to you but how you perceive and respond to it that matters.
But whatever the cause, depression turns into a prison, a largely self made prison of the mind, with walls to progress built and patrolled, and solitary confinement block installed, all run by a very harsh jailer – the self. This may sound harsh, a bitter bill to swallow, but is really a message of hope.
Just as you have learned to be depressed so you can unlearn. People do not become clinically depressed overnight – it develops over time as worries continue, patterns form and physical changes in brain chemistry and the body take their toll.
The mind body connection includes over production of cortisone and under production of serotonin….the body is more tired from the battle with worry….depression has a major impact on our ability to plan and think clearly so ‘simple things’ become difficult, concentration and sleep suffers. People with depression tend to dream more and so spend more time in light (REM) sleep and get less of the deep sleep the body needs, This is why mornings are often the worst time of the day for a depressed person. When you awake tired it can be very hard to get out of bed and face the world. This is why I include restoring healthy sleep in my treatment process.
Breaking the cycle of depression involves learning to think and act in ways that enable you to enjoy life fully. You can learn how to break free of your prison, to recognise that you have choices and are able to learn to think and act differently. You can learn to overcome obstacles and let go of limiting beliefs. All is possible through skilled use of hypnosis and other tools and techniques. (if you would like to learn more about the real impact of hypnosis on the brain – click here)
As well as understanding their experience and needs, I usually start to help someone to break free of depression by first learning to relax more and tap into inner resources for change. We then move on to learning how stop asking themselves the wrong questions, to stop running the wrong scripts in their mind, to focus on solutions and be more and more motivated to take action to change, to also learn how not to make life tougher than it needs to.
In addition to hypnosis, I also show people how to challenge their own thought processes and think more appropriate using some gthem simple yet powerful tools and techniques for changing their state physically and mentally…. to be more confident and optimistic.
We can also discuss practical lifestyle changes that could help, including ways to prevent depression from ever happening again. The advantage of serving a sentence of depression is that once it is over, it can make you very determined never to be a repeat offender.
Finally, people who come to me for help often ask me about my views on anti-depressants and if they should continue taking their medication, or not. Leaving aside the very fact that someone who turns to me for help has probably already concluded that antidepressants are not the best option. I think that when someone does not want to rely on medication it is a very positive sign and people often see reaching that “no medication” point as a key milestone for them in their recovery.
My own view is that if an anti-depressant is working and without side effects and the risk of dependency, then why not continue to take them, at least for a while. They are after all designed to help someone cope and be able to overcome depression themselves so that they are no longer needed anymore. They should be a temporary solution to a temporary problem. So while my goal will always be to help my client overcome their depression and not need the drugs anymore, I always recommend a client to consult their GP about their medication before stopping. Usually a controlled reduction in dosage is the best solution.
And if you would like to read more about depression, the BBC website is a useful starting point – click here