“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Feelings of sadness
Frequent crying spells
Low energy or motivation
Difficulty with focus/concentration
Loss of interest in usual activities
Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious
Low energy or fatigue
Changes in appetite
Isolated and withdrawn socially
Feelings of worthlessness
Excessive feelings of guilt
Thoughts of harming self or suicide
Clinical depression is defined as a multi-factorial, multi-symptomatic syndrome in which depressed mood or loss of interest and pleasure are core symptoms. It can be difficult to identify within ourselves as symptoms seem to gradually build and take over our lives. Depression can be mild, moderate or severe in intensity.
We can experience depression as a reaction to many hardships. Trouble in our relationships can lead to depression when we lose the sense of closeness we once had. We may become stuck in re-occurring behaviors, problems or conflicts that cause us to feel hopeless. A loss such as the death of a loved one, separation/divorce or a transition from one stage of life to another can cause us to feel lost and out of control leading to depression. Many of us may have memories or subconscious harmful patterns of childhood or past relationships that affect our ability to enjoy life in the present or to make desired changed in our lives. Our lifestyles also have a significant impact on our mood and the well-being of our mind. Our minds and bodies are heavily inter-linked. Physical illness can easily affect mood and depression e.g. due to chronic inflammation or pain. Also malaise-maintaining thought patterns, deficient emotional skills, unhealthy nutrition, too little exercise and excessive indoor living and absorbing harmful or excessive media content exacerbate both the risk of illness and the symptoms of the already ill person.
Whatever the cause, there is hope. Through active, integrated treatment it is possible to find freedom from and remarkably reduce the symptoms of depression.
Depression can be chronic and reoccur periodically or it can be a reaction to a single life event that is emotionally overwhelming. Our reaction to these emotions can cause us to become emotionally stuck or numb to our feelings altogether. When numbness occurs it is often connected to repressed emotions of sadness, hurt, grief or anger that we are not necessarily aware of. Depression can also be an unconscious way of shutting down or avoiding unwanted emotions in fear that we cannot cope with them.
A depressed person's life history most likely includes experiences that have been vital, invalidating and damaging losses. These experiences can remain latent in their mind for a long time. When a depressed person finds him or herself in a situation reminiscent of the initial loss or other adversity, the previously latent repressed memories of inadequacy come to mind. They begin to have a negative and coloring effect on what he/she perceives in the present and what conclusions they draw from their observations. The severity and duration of a depressive state depends on how severely the information processing is distorted in the depressed individual's brain. Episodes of depression continue as long as the negative underlying beliefs behind his depression remain activated. A depressed person tends to feel helpless, incapable and rejected and expects failures and rejections in the future as well. The more these thoughts get activated, the more automatic they become (automatic brain circuit) and the risk of depressive episodes increases since the brain is on a sort of negative "autopilot".
This may sound hopeless, but it is actually not. Our brains are incredibly plastic and capable of change. Through integrative psychotherapeutic and lifestyle treatment it is possible to improve the brain's low-grade inflammation, form new brain circuits and shift negative thinking patterns towards a more positive outlook that then affect mood and behaviour. In cognitive psychotherapy it is often said that the "neurons that wire together, fire together". The neurons that connect often form new connections, whereas neurons that are not used literally atrophy away. In a very concrete way we are able to impact the way our inner worlds operate.
Naturally, in a depressed state outside help is often required to elicit motion for change. I will be there to help you make sense of your difficult experiences and help you to sketch an understandable storyline out of them. Together we will sit with and acknowledge your pain and begin formulate realistic goals to begin your healing process. Another saying in cognitive psychotherapy is: "motion creates motion". When you create healing change in either thoughts, feelings or behaviour, the other areas also get impacted and you're well on your way to the change you're after: freedom of recurring, hurtful patterns and a new start where you have the energy and the desire to master your feelings without them mastering you. At first resistance to change is always there, as in general human beings don't do well with change. But very rapidly your mind will leap onto your side from the resistance and actually aid you in bringing about change, since that is what it needed all along. It was just initially protecting you from any further pain and that's it's job. So thank your mind for being there for you through thick and thin. Then go ahead and take a moment to attune to your feelings. Close your eyes. Breathe long and deep for a few times. How do you feel? What do you need? What does the rest of your story look like?
I'M AN ORIGINAL CATCHPHRASE
How Therapy for Depression Can Help
Cognitive psychotherapy of depression is based in cognitive theory. Cognitive psychotherapy teaches skills that enable you to identify immediate negative thoughts that flood your mind, question them in the light of facts, and if needed, change them. With a severely depressed person, we begin with activating daily function and only then proceed to explore and work on inner thoughts and feelings. Therapy for the mildly depressed can begin with processing of thoughts and feelings. What is important is learning to identify core beliefs, taking note of when fatigue and melancholy take over, creating skills for nurturing self-care and building and maintaining a lifestyle that supports the person's goals in improving their depressive state.
When you are depressed, it's difficult to imagine your mental state being any other way. But change is possible, and together we'll aim at especially two kids of therapeutic change. Our first task is changing your harmful core beliefs and automatic thinking in relation to yourself, others and your future. We will look at the way you speak to yourself in your mind (your inner talk), possible distorted thinking and your inner working models (schemas) that colour the way you perceive yourself and the world. Secondly, we will identify and challenge the broader status quo: assumptions and activities that maintain your depression without you necessarily even realizing it like destructive lifestyle habits.
Depression is a painful illness that can feel inconsolably devastating and endless, and that severely impairs anyone's functioning and disrupts life in every way, with a high comorbidity with anxiety and other serious mental health challenges. However, by applying a combination of treatment that integrates talking therapy and holistic, healthy lifestyle factors such as finding the drive to increase the amount of exercise and pay attention to nutrition and healthy relationships, I have seen great results in the treatment of mild, moderate and severe depression. Please contact for more information either for your or your loved one's enhanced and sustainable well-being and health.