Counselling for Depression Aberdeen and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression are very effective and available at Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, Aberdeen.
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tel: 07593768129 or
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Depression is very common. It will affect 1 in 7 of us at some time during our lives and often recurs.
Unfortunately, in addition to the 'good times', there will be times in all of our lives when we experience high degrees of suffering and hurt which may lead to an episode of depression. Although there does seem to be a continuum from normal sadness into depression, depression is much more than sadness and has a number of different features - see below.
What are the symptoms of depression?
In depression, you might experience a combination of the following persisting for more than two weeks:
- lack of energy and low motivation.
- increased irritability and moodiness.
- change in appetite: a decrease or increase.
- sleeping problems.
- reduced feelings of pleasure and enjoyment.
- persistent low mood.
- withdrawal from others.
- difficulties concentrating.
- feeling hopeless, guilty and inadequate.
- holding a bleak or pessimistic view of the future.
- reduced self-esteem and self-confidence.
- problems in your relationships.
- suicidal thoughts.
Depression can be soul-sucking. The poet Emily Dickinson said that her depression was like "a funeral in my brain." (Dickinson, 1983, p. 317)
Why do people become depressed?
There are many theories about why people become depressed. Sometimes the reasons are clear. For example, the depression might be triggered by a relationship break-up, loss of job or unexpected change. Other times, the reasons for becoming depressed are not clear.
Depression can affect anyone. Despite 50 years of research trying to develop them, there are no genetic or other physical tests for depression.
Although depression appears to run in some families, researchers have been unable to separate environmental factors from genetic factors. Therefore, it is likely that in addition to genetic material, ways of coping are learned and passed on through families.
It is probable that there is no single gene causing depression and the causes are multi-factorial.
What seems to maintain depression is an interaction between our biology, thoughts, behaviours, relationships and other factors in our environment. This means that in certain circumstances, we all have the capacity to become depressed, as this is part of everyone's biological make-up.
Also, any genetic factors need to be switched on by environmental factors. It seems that some people may be more vulnerable, in this respect, than others.
However, this also means that genes can be switched off by environmental factors. This is called epigenetics: where there is a reciprocal interaction between environment and genes. This new understanding gives us a much more hopeful and sophisticated alternative to the old simplistic 'cause/effect' mechanical genetic models.
Compared to 50 years ago, some estimate that the incidence of depression has increased by up to 10 times which suggests that, for most people, our lifestyles and how we live, play a much more significant role. This is something we can address.
Many people have been led to believe that depression is simply caused by a 'chemical imbalance' in the brain. Although certain biochemical factors may be associated with depression, they have not been scientifically established as the 'cause' of depression.
Because some people improve with antidepressant medication this does not demonstrate that depression is a biochemical disorder. We need to be careful not to confuse effect with cause. For example, if you feel slightly better after taking a glass of wine, does that mean you have a wine deficiency?
Unfortunately, a narrow and naive focus on neurobiology and the use of medications often distracts from other important influences in the persons life, such as how our families and relationships, stressful life events, individual coping styles and views can impact on our mood in powerful ways and combine to produce and perpetuate depression.
In comparison to the relatively small sums they have spent on research, drug companies have spent billions marketing depression as a 'biological illness' or 'disease' caused by a 'chemical imbalance' in the brain for which you need their medication. The underlying idea being that depression is an 'illness' requiring a medical cure.
However, after reviewing the available research, Professor Irving Kirsch (2009) and others suggest: "there is no convincing evidence that depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain". Therefore, there is a lot of controversy about this idea.
The main problem with viewing depression as an 'illness', is that it encourages passivity and resignation in the 'patient'.
Research has shown that people who believe their 'faulty' brain chemistry has caused their 'depressive illness' are more pessimistic about their recovery from depression and become less confident that they can manage and regulate their mood (Deacon, 2013). This has major implications regarding how you choose to view depression and the importance of taking an active role in your recovery from it.
Given the above, depression may be more accurately and helpfully viewed as a 'syndrome' (a combination of biology, behaviours, thoughts, emotions and circumstances).
This view gives you more hope that you can influence your depression and take small steps to rise out of it, such as: altering your life situation; activity levels; long-held beliefs about your self, your relationships and your future. Many psychological therapeutic approaches help in this process.
On the other hand, for many people, antidepressant medication can be helpful in treating some of the symptoms of depression but it may not directly address the contributing and maintaining factors. Therefore, especially when symptoms are severe, a combination of antidepressant medication and counselling is often used.
Alternatively, for others, who are fortunate enough to obtain access to it, counselling is the first treatment of choice.
Ten tips for managing depression?
1. Find out about depression and how it is trying to ruin your life.
2. Reduce rumination. Depression encourages people to isolate themselves and to spend lots of time engulfed by their negative thoughts or memories. This is called 'ruminating' ie going over and over emotional issues and thoughts in your mind without coming to any useful conclusion.
3. Exercising: go for brisk walks or if you prefer, 4 x 30 minute jogs per week. Recent reports in the media about exercise failing to lift depression is based on one research study published in 2012. The exercise did actually help those with depression but not to statistically significant levels. There are other better studies that demonstrate the benefits of exercise.
4. When you notice your self beginning to ruminate, change your focus to something outside of your self.
5. Do something that stops you from thinking too much. For example, jigsaw puzzles, computer games, gardening, watch light-hearted movies or tv programmes or read a light novel, if you can.
6. Ring-fence a 30 minute period each day when your mood is a little better to review the contents of your negative thinking. Try to postpone any negative thinking to within this time, for example, by saying to your self: "There is one of those thoughts from depression, I'll write it down and deal with it later."
7. Do what you used to enjoy. The aim is not to gain enjoyment at this stage but to just be doing something other than sitting around vulnerable to attacks of negative rumination.
8. Stick to regular routines of eating and sleeping. Aim to eat regular meals even when you are not hungry and remember to drink fluid frequently too.
9. Keep a record of your daily mood fluctuations (0 - 10) and notice periods when your mood is better.
10. Keep a daily gratitude diary. Record three little things at the end of each day that you appreciated. Research suggests that this exercise promotes happy feelings.
Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy (PCP) Centre has a wide range of services available to people from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and surrounding areas.
If you would like help to manage and overcome personal, emotional or relationship problems or dilemmas, please contact us to make a confidential 'counselling for depression' appointment. There is no obligation to make any commitment or changes.
All communications are treated with the highest degree of discretion and confidentiality.
Possibilities Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre
31 Jopp's Lane