COUNSELLING FOR DEPRESSION
It may be hard to believe but you can climb out from under this cloud
Depression impacts every part of your life
- Physical - feeling physically depleted, low energy, sleeping and eating are disrupted.
- Mental - thinking negatively about your self and the world, being overly self critical.
- Social - lack a willingness to engage with(and take pleasure from) the company of others.
- Spiritual - life seems meaningless and lacks purpose.
How can you tell if you are unhappy or depressed?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference, and sometimes you may be feeling such intense loss and grief such as when a loved one dies, that you can mistake grief for depression. Certainly we can go through periods of depression at these times. If you are experiencing intense sadness at a time of loss you may want to give yourself time before seeking medication. During times of grief it may be just as important to experience the connection of those around you to help you through, or the presence of a therapist.
Here are 3 characteristics of depression
For the majority of us we would not feel depressed if there wasn't something in our world that we wished was different - there has to be some kind of problem.
We can identify three types of problems;
Pain or loss - Feelings of not being able to bear it.
Performance - Feelings of failure and inadequacy, eg feeling unable to provide for your family.
Identity - Feelings of shame about self - 'I'm no good'.
LOSS OF HOPE
The feeling that our problem is a lost cause. We feel that it can not be resolved. We have no vision of a way through it. It seems that it will be this way forever.
We have an inability to come to terms with the problem. We find it difficult to live with it, or walk away from.
We do not develop depression if any of these conditions are missing we may feel distressed but we don't fall into the debilitating effects of depression described above.
Three types of diagnosis
- A major depression interferes with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode may happen only once in a lifetime, but more commonly it occurs several times.
- Dysthymia is the term used to describe long-term symptoms that, while not disabling, keep one from functioning well or feeling good. Most people who are experiencing depression have this kind of condition.
- Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, which is characterized by severe highs (mania) and lows (depression).
3 Ways to begin to deal with your depression
- FIRST - Get a thorough assessment that includes any medical possibility. There are many medical conditions that have depression as a component such as thyroid disease. The older you are the more likely it is a medical condition. Allergies are proving to be increasingly associated with depression for example Celiac disease (a gluten allergy). Bring this up with your doctor - not all are as thorough about investigating an alternative diagnosis before prescribing antidepressants.
- SECOND - Look at your diet and self care habits. Poor diet can contribute to depression and lack of proper nutrients. What kinds of supplements do you need - talk to your doctor about this. Do you smoke or take recreational drugs or use alcohol to cope? These habits and addictions over the long term are depressive. Start some form of physical activity even if it is walking once a day, exercise can have an immediate effect on your energy level.
- THIRD - Begin to notice any cycles - eg. do you only get depressed in winter? your depression may be caused by lack of light. What is happening in your life, what kind of problems are you dealing with that may have triggered the depression? Once you have identified some of the problem areas you can seek help with those areas. Even though you feel hopeless about the problem it is important that you DO SEEK HELP and talk to someone.
Counselling for depression and the question of Medication
Whether you use medication to begin to deal with your depression is a personnel choice. It is not automatic that because you struggle with depression that you need medication. Many people recover without this. Medication doesn't change circumstances, or difficult choices you have to make. Making changes requires emotional work and support.
Because depression effects all aspects of our life it takes a holistic approach, here are some of the ways that counselling can support you to address those areas;
- Provides Structure
Typically when you are depressed it is very difficult to be motivated to do things. If you have a regular appointment it provides the space to help you focus on doing something and keep going.
- Gives Encouragement:
The regular support of a therapist can keep encouraging you to take one step at a time to address your problems, find things that you can do each day and when you are feeling overwhelmed bring you back to focus on what you can do.
- Breaks Isolation
For many of you, you have become disconnected and isolated from close connections. The contact with a therapist gives you caring, compassionate contact with another human being where you can be yourself. Often if you are in contact with loved ones you may feel that you have burdened them with your depression. You don't have to worry about that with a therapist.
- Explores Underlying Causes
Depression is often related to experiences in your life that are difficult to come to terms with or cope with. Regular contact with a therapist provides self exploration. Some of these experiences may relate to childhood and unresolved issues in family relationships especially where as a child you had to focus on others needs rather than your own. Over time this leads to a lack of connection to yourself, and a focus on trying to be perfect. Counselling provides the space to explore who you are, develop your sense self, and learn new ways to express your self in relationships. Traumatic experiences and loss can sometimes lead to PTSD where depression can be an aspect.
- Explores Meaning of Life
Do you ask your self 'What's the Point'? This is a common question when we are depressed as we have lost meaning and purpose in our life. Counselling provides the space to explore this question.