The ABC of Coping with Depression
What is Depression?
Depression is the number one mental health problem in the developed world. It affects people of all ages, backgrounds and gender and does not discriminate. Depression is also on the increase with adolescents and young adults showing the fastest rate of growth.
Depression is the result of an interaction between changing sociological conditions, our biological makeup and cognitive processes. Counselling and Psychotherapy, just a couple of the talking therapies, have proved very beneficial in the treatment of Depression. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Brief Solution Focused Therapy are on the cutting edge of helping depressed clients negotiate their way out of negative thinking patterns and beliefs systems.
Symptoms of Depression:
1. Depressed mood with overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief.
2. Loss of interest and pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed.
3. Insomnia, early morning waking or oversleeping nearly every day.
4. Decreased energy or fatigue.
5. Noticeable changes in appetite and weight (a significant loss or gain).
6. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness.
7. Inability to concentrate or think.
8. Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide or suicide attempts.
9. Physical symptoms of restlessness or being slowed down.
The most effective way to break the cycle of Depression:
(A) Introducing a relaxation skill into a daily routine ‐ Mindfulness, breathing exercises, mental relaxation or visualization.
(B) Focusing your attention outwards and away from yourself – Hobby, pleasurable activities.
(C) Physical exercise to use up any excess emotional energy.
(D) Challenge negative thinking processes – Cognitive distortions, limiting beliefs. Create lists of your best qualities and achievements you are most proud of. Keep yourself busy by doing positive and constructive things for yourself and remember to reward yourself often.
(E) Give yourself credit for your efforts.
(F) Antidepressants can be effective but the right type of counselling or psychotherapy is often quicker in effect and greatly reduces the chance of future episodes of depression.
My Approach to Depression
My way of working with depressed clients is after the initial consultation where we look at a previous history and possible causes, we focus in on the most urgent symptom. Through the Counselling and Psychotherapy process, we begin to talk about your Depression and how it has affected you and your life.
We begin to put a treatment plan in place where each week we tackle one symptom at a time and systematically work through each of the symptoms, tracking progress week by week and experimenting with new behaviours and belief systems. Each week the client will be taught new ways of thinking and challenging old limiting beliefs, as we generate new more resourceful beliefs and attitudes.
The goal of therapy is to make the client self reliant, resilient and resourceful moving into the future. Having corrected any life interfering habits, the client will have a full understanding of their negative thinking patterns, attitudes and beliefs. And more importantly the benefit of having tackled them in a safe therapy environment with the tools to deal with them again if they slip back into their old habitual ways of thinking.
At the end of therapy the empowered client will have taken an active part in their mental health through weekly goals and exercises. They will be encouraged to introduce new language patterns into their vocabulary, become more self aware, set positive life goals for themselves, learn how to reframe negative thoughts and life experiences, challenge negative beliefs, and seek out experiences and hobbies that return them to their natural emotional state.