Do you feel dissatisfied and unhappy? Are you experiencing low mood? Sometimes we struggle to understand what’s wrong
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues in the UK and likely to happen to one in four of us over our lifetimes. Feelings of low mood or depression are a signal that something is wrong in your current situation or the way you are dealing with it. These feelings often go hand in hand with anxiety or chronic pain. Depression is not a biological illness, but a depressed mood does eventually affect your brain chemistry. Every thought and emotion you have affects the level of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is your feel-good brain chemical. If you are depressed then your serotonin is low. When you are positive your levels are high. This is why some anti-depressants encourage serotonin to stay in the system, but they cannot create or add more serotonin that isn’t already there! To lift depression, you need to find ways to boost your serotonin levels yourself, usually by doing more of the things you enjoy.
Did you realise that depression is not caused by difficult life situations but by the way you cope with such events? Throughout life, you may have learned inadequate ways of dealing with problems and this makes you more prone to depression. It is not episodes of depression which reoccur in life, but the way you continue to react to difficult circumstances in the same way, perhaps worrying instead of finding better solutions and coping skills.
Depression is often accompanied by other feelings such as guilt, shame, anger and anxiety. We need to work on all these drivers to help you recover. When we look at depression like this, it is easier to see how psychological interventions can effectively lift most depressions.
A depressed brain is a stressed brain
Depression feels so bad because you get caught up in a vicious circle of negative thoughts, emotions and behaviour. This leads to exhaustion as the brain struggles to cope. Usually, restorative sleep helps to keep things in balance, but depression is often accompanied and driven by anxiety. The associated rumination during the night affects the quality of sleep and you can wake up exhausted rather than refreshed. Eventually, the brain becomes overwhelmed and to preserve precious energy it throws the emergency shutdown switch. You withdraw and may isolate yourself from family and friends, lose motivation and avoid all the things that would naturally boost your serotonin. When this happens, you may find it hard to get out of bed and feel generally low and physically ill. You tend to think very negatively about yourself, the future and the world around you – like seeing life through “gloomy specs”. You dwell on negativity, mulling things over, asking yourself why, and thinking regretful things about the past such as what you should or shouldn’t have done. Physical sensations include tiredness, fatigue and lethargy, along with aches and pains that seem to have no physical basis. These negative patterns strengthen further and can feel impossible to shake off.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety you are advised to have a health check with your GP to rule out any physical causes before undertaking psychological therapy.
The key message is that there is hope for recovery
Maybe you have tried many weeks of talking therapies like CBT or counselling and have been prescribed medication? It is really disheartening when things don’t seem to get much better.
“I have felt lost for such a long time. I feel knocked back with all the methods I have tried as nothing seems to work. I don’t want to be on medication but I don’t know what else to do. Can you help me?”
Most people diagnosed with depression also experience anxiety and traditionally people aren’t treated for both problems at the same time. Hypnotherapy and BWRT® can effectively address both issues. I start gently with such exhausted clients, explaining why depression happens and how it is maintained. We can then get to work on changing things. The key message is that there is hope for recovery.
“Thanks for all your help getting me back on track. I feel so very grateful that with your help I am now enjoying life and everything around me. I feel the confident, happy person I wanted to be. I am so happy to have spent time with you and I learned such a lot from you”