It has been my intention for some time now to write about depression and how I believe that many of those suffering from it can be helped significantly in a relatively short space of time. By using a therapeutic approach (hypnotherapy) to reframe sensitising events in the clients past, combined with a number of techniques and tools to teach them how to control and choose their emotions (coaching) going forward, I genuinely think that a client, in most instances, can at least have an improved life and at best, be free from depression altogether.
When I use the term ‘relatively short space of time’ I do so in comparison to either the time an individual has suffered from depression, the time they have been medicated for their depression, the time they have been seeing a ‘traditional’ talk therapist or psychologist, or a combination of all of the above. This can be a very long time indeed and I think in many if not all instances, unnecessarily so.
The first problem I have is that the clients I have seen that have either been labelled by their doctor or have chosen to label themselves ‘depressed’ aren’t always exhibiting what I would call symptoms of real ‘depression’. Some are stressed, some are anxious, some I wouldn’t mind betting have hormone, mineral or vitamin deficiencies that no one has bothered screening for and some are just drama queens (sorry but it’s true and not all of them intentionally).
The second problem I have is also label related, in that it is easier, dare I say convenient for doctors to label or bucket a patient in a certain way, so that they can prescribe them medication and send them packing with no game plan or end game to come off them.
Another problem I have is with the notion that chemical imbalances or genetics are the main cause of depression. As a hypnotherapist I routinely demonstrate to my clients how engaging elements of their subconscious and eliciting associated and dissociated states can have a very real impact on their body chemistry, why is it so hard to imagine that negative and incorrect thought patterns, combined with a lack of positive fulfilment can result in both depression and chemical abnormalities? Maybe there is some credence in an individual being genetically predisposed to depression, but is it the genes or the family environment and the individual’s model of the world that makes a child follow in a depressed parents footsteps? The next time you encounter someone with a fear of spiders ask them if either a parent or sibling has the same problem and there is a very good chance the answer will be yes. Should the answer be no you can bet your life some thing at some time created a fearful association with our little eight legged friends. Are they genetically scared of spiders? No – they are products of their particular environment and the subconscious perception of they have of it.
If chemical imbalances were mainly to blame for depression, then why aren’t any of these pills working? Evidence suggests that the efficacy of most anti depressants does not extend beyond that of a placebo (with some pretty shitty side effects) and its disturbing to hear some people talk about their anti depressants and prescription drugs with one another like it’s a game of top trumps! If you don’t believe me, I would encourage anyone taking them, or who is considering taking them to at least be in full possession of the facts by doing some research into them.
Mental health issues in this country are soaring and I think it is because we approach the treatment of depression in the wrong way. Diagnosing, labelling, prescribing, but not enough working on resolving the underlying issues that cause or perpetuate it. As a hypnotherapist and coach, despite my opinions and disdain at the attitude of some of the people taking them AND dishing out , I wouldn’t and couldn’t dream of telling a client sat in front of me to stop taking the prescription drugs given to them by their doctor. I just wish some doctors were, at the very least, open to the idea that other approaches may be more effective than the labels and prescriptions they are giving their growing number of depressed patients.
So here are some of the generalisations I find both routinely evident and personally frustrating, when dealing with ‘depressed’ people and as it may be seen as contentious for a hypnotherapist and coach to put them across in such a way (if at all), I will state very clearly these are my opinions and mine alone.
- Self labelling by individuals
- Over zealous labelling by professionals
- People mistaking anxiety and stress for depression
- An unfortunate enthusiasm to play the victim in many instances
- People making questionable choices in addressing their own problems
- The lackadaisical way some GP’s prescribe anti depressants and sleeping tablets
- The lack of information and transparency about the effectiveness and side effects of many drugs
- The unwillingness to only prescribe medicine in conjunction with resolving underlying issues, or even being open to the idea the issues are there.
I know some people wont like this article because they will view it as dismissive and to some extent it is meant to be so. Some of the people that wont like what I am saying will be the same individuals who are immediately dismissive themselves of any notion that the thing they see as depression doesn’t have to be permanent or that they can be helped. Anyone with genuine depression will love the idea that they may not have to be depressed forever, even if the way they feel right now means they have trouble really believing it. Generally the people who are dismissive are those that are too terrified of the process of change (driven by fear or laziness) or the change itself (loss of identity, fear of the unknown, lost secondary gains), so they resist change or someone who says it is possible. Change the words ‘being depressed’ to ‘being a smoker’ or ‘being fat’ and and no one would care how dismissive I was being.
It is very important at this point to mention that there are many, many people who do genuinely suffer from depression (and I am not being dismissive of them) and that the mental health epidemic in this country is unfortunately very real and growing rapidly. My frustration comes from the fact that I do believe that they too can be helped exactly as described at the beginning of this piece (using effective hypnotherapy and coaching) and that the help is obstructed by ignorance on the part of medical professionals, an obsession with prescription drugs, bullshit therapists seeing individuals as cash cows (I’ve written about those ne’er do wells before) and those strange individuals who seemingly want a label and open ended prescription to perpetually lament life and never take any responsibility (yeah I said it!).
Which leads me to two things.
Firstly, I want to point your attention to the article which has appeared in a number of todays newspapers (though I will give the Telegraph’s link so I look posh) highlighting some of what I have just mentioned regarding life events being the real precursor to depression and viewable HERE, and secondly that in the next few weeks I intend to begin a number of test cases on exactly what I have been talking about, how I believe that by combining a few strategies, an individual can begin to experience the dark clouds of depression parting. If you, or someone you know may benefit from this study please email me HERE.
In the meantime if you think you may be a little depressed (I hope it wasn’t my blog) then the best and most immediate advice I can give you is:-
- surround yourself with people and things (family pet) that care or at the very least talk to someone who is a genuinely keen listener
- if its an option, hug someone or some thing (again when I say thing I mean a pet…though NEVER hug a goldfish) as this releases good, healthy chemicals.
- Do some exercise (go to the gym, go for a walk).
- Stay off the booze.
- Stay away from social media, especially at bed time, unless you are explicitly looking for ‘happy’ stories.
- Write a to-do list.
- Watch something or listen to something funny and light hearted
- Ask yourself, what can you do to elevate your mood (even if its just a little).
Remember, even if it doesn’t feel like it, when it actually comes down to it, we have more options and more choices than we tell ourselves when we are in the doldrums. As long as the choice is that you don’t want to be there, then there is always a way you can feel better than you do when you are there.