Depression treatment and help to lift depressive feelings
I feel depressed and what is depression? Are two questions I get asked all the time, so this page summarises my experience of where depression comes from and what you can do to lift your depressive feelings.
There has been so much research done in recent years, however, no gene has ever been found that can be traced to being responsible for causing depression and feeling anxious, many believe that is because there isn’t one.
Many scientists point to the evidence that depression runs in families and I think this is closer to the truth, but it is still not biological, it is probably down to the coping skills you learn from your immediate family and the random unfortunate circumstances that life throws at us.
Interestingly, people born before 1945 have 10 times less depression than those born after, indicating that your circumstances, stress, families, work and environmental issues may contribute more than the chemical imbalance.
Our cells do adapt to our most prevalent emotions and chemicals in our body, so, over time people who are experiencing depressive moods have cells that have fewer receptors to accept the “feel good” chemicals. The good news is that as you change the way you manage your emotions and thoughts, the cells slowly change back to have more receptors for the good chemicals and less for the unhappy chemicals.
So, it is possible to step out of depression by addressing what we want from life and develop new ways to emotionally respond to our environment. A person with a fulfilling life, plans, a vision of what they want and lots of activity, rarely have any room for depression.
You could say that depression is; “The lack of a big bright future that you are compelled to step into, armed with the right psychological knowledge that enables you to understand how the mind and the body work together to generate good and positive emotions and feelings.”
Please read this: To step out of depression you need to think differently, behave differently, become more active (even though you have no energy or inclination) you need to adapt the way you see yourself, change the way you talk to yourself and unravel unhelpful self-beliefs that trap you from taking the required action in your life. This is the way I can help you to help yourself – I can’t make your depression go away! But YOU CAN, you just need a little help. You can protest, moan, cry, give up or fight all you like, you can pretend it’s not happening, you can hide in drinks, food or drugs, but deep down you know the time has come to pay attention and do something!
Please only contact me if you are really really prepared to do what ever it takes to change your life – because so many people say they don’t want to be depressed anymore, yet, abdicate power over their emotions to other people or other circumstances external to themselves, this absolutely needs to end.
I had a chronic issue with procrastination, which is the primary reason I sought the advice of John Glanvill. Within a matter of a few months, the issues of procrastination have dissipated almost entirely, and I have workable strategies to employ if and when such temptations arise. Through addressing the intricacies of this symptom, my worldview has shifted and other parts of my life have been exposed and improved. I am happily continuing my journey with John to achieve the most out of every aspect of my life.
For a number of years, almost as far back as I could remember, I had felt a lack of motivation. I went through life flicking from one thing to another, one issue or crisis in my personal or work life to the next. I had the wish to start learning something new, only to do it for a few weeks and then give up. I found commitment in relationships challenging and found it very difficult to truly open up to those close to me. It is true what they say about hindsight as it is indeed a wonderful thing! Knowing what I know now about myself, I look back and actually find it amusing as to how I used to be. I first started seeing John as I felt I had had enough of this lack of motivation or direction. Also around the same time, I had started seeing a girl who I felt I could truly have something special with, yet had no clue how to do things differently… As I said at the time, ‘If I do what I always have done, I will get what I have always got. And with her, I did not want that. I wanted more!’ When I went to John I almost expected him to hypnotise me, say a few fancy or profound words and then I would be fixed! I quickly realised that this was not the case… What John did was to teach me the skills and knowledge to get me to see things differently and in turn, allow myself to react to them differently or in the way that I would like.
I was in such a state when I called John the very first time, I didn’t know what I was really looking for but I knew I needed to help. My confidence was in tatters and I couldn’t make a decision about anything…. including what therapist to go to. His patient, calm and understanding manner made it very clear on the outset that he was the right person for me and I am so pleased that I decided to see John. He has helped me enormously. I was in a major rut and finding it hard to cope with various circumstances in my life which had become overwhelming – he has enlightened my understanding of my own psyche and given me the tools to move forward successfully and get back to the person I had somehow lost …. with a few enhancements along the way!! These skills and mindsets are something that I will always cherish and be ever grateful for and thankful that John was there. I would recommend him (and have numerous times already) to anyone needing to reset a few buttons in life which may have been underlying for a long time or become hard to cope with recently. You will not regret it one bit.
John, You have been the light in my darkest times, you have made me realise that things aren’t always what they seem and that you are responsible for your own happiness in life. The one thing that I feared when I came to you was that I was going to lose my relationship – I did, and do you know what, it may have only been a few weeks ago, but my goodness I feel strong, liberated and ready for the new path that leads me to my new beginning. No more tears or heartache – I will survive and be a better and stronger person for it! I thank you with all my heart for making me realise who I truly am.
John is one of those truly rare people in this world; someone who really listens and believes so passionately in what he does. I came to John in a very deep dark place and, through his inspirational therapy methods and “teachings”, he helped me to see depression in a totally different light and separate it from myself. He helped me to realise that there is so much more to me than whom I think I am! I am forever grateful for all the time spent with John… thank-you!
New ways to look at depression
It is common for a person who experiences depressive feelings to place the source of their negative emotions externally to themselves and this results in them feeling like a victim. I feel it is a frailty of us humans to make happiness dependant on externals, like saying, “When I get that job, then I’ll be happy” or, “When we finally move house; or get that car, or get some money; or if he stops doing that thing… – then I will feel happy and it will be OK.” There needs to come a time when the person says to themselves “My happiness does not depend on anything outside of me. I am the source of my own happiness, by my own inner decisions, my integrity, my intentions, and by the way I see myself and all my relationships with the events and people in my life.” Because at this point they are stepping out of the victim point of view, then real change can begin.
A good way to move out of depressive states is to examine the underlying fears that are held in mind. We explore what the loss is, for example, the loss of an opportunity, loss of a person, loss of a job, loss of health. Many people become depressed in middle age and see life as passing them by and that they have lost some opportunities, a woman might fear to lose her looks and if that was where she used to hold her sense of self-worth she will be fearful.
We can then see that we need to break down the generalised condition of depression into “what exactly am I fearful of?” At this point, we discover it is the future and the person is thinking “How am I going to live without… (whatever you have lost) and it feels scary. There needs to come a time when you decide to let go of resisting the fear and just be with it – where you realise that you can handle the experiences even though you will have fearful thoughts.
Anger can sometimes be useful, to be angry with yourself for blaming other things outside of yourself for your emotional feelings. Although anger is not healthy it is less unhealthy than depression and it has more emotional energy attached to it, so you can start to take responsibility and say, “The way I was looking at this set me up for feeling low, depression and frustration, it set me up for these feelings of being let down and disappointed.” The courage to do this can change the whole way you look at the subject and you begin a new cycle, one that is not so negative and restrictive.
Depression can be treated pharmacologically and may temporarily lift feelings, but if the person has not changed their way of being in the world, how they relate to people, their expectations, their understanding of themselves – their vulnerability remains the same and they remain a victim. The door to freedom is recognising this and slowly learning what you need to do to change.
All things in life change and we humans need to be malleable in our thoughts, beliefs and actions, so we can roll with the punches, and like the willow tree bend in the breeze without snapping. Learning to trust in our own competencies, taking total responsibility for our actions and for planning our future. This is where I can really help you
The intensity of feelings whilst in a depressive state
This is important to understand – After a prolonged time feeling depressed or anxious our senses become desensitised, when good things happen we know they are good, yet, the sparkling feeling is not there, we just don’t feel that intense excitement. And when something bad happens, well, it’s just another bad thing and even those bad feelings can be quite numb.
This is due to how our thoughts and our unconscious nervous system interact and change our biology. Know this, as you recover from depression, the good feelings return, so you want to do more good things and the bad feelings intensify too and at this point, you realise that you don’t want that bad stuff anymore.
This process of re-engaging with your ‘real feelings’ takes about 4 months once you start to do things differently and learn to worry in a new more productive way.
Symptoms of depression
Depressive feelings and major depressive episodes can challenge us in many ways. Feeling unhappy, down or sad in response to life circumstances, loss, medical conditions or frustration is quite normal. Occasionally people use the word depression to label these feelings, but, more likely, this would be classed as situational depression, where we are naturally and emotionally reacting to the circumstances and events around us.
Major depression, however, overpowers our normal emotions and engulfs our life, laying a cold wet blanket over our senses. The depressed person who experiences this mood disorder finds their ability to feel excitement diminish and find it hard to work, eat, sleep and have fun, the future can seem dull, hard to change and you probably feel that you can’t be bothered anyway.
Depression and anxiety have become some of the world’s most debilitating human conditions and it is on the increase affecting roughly 42% of women and 11% of men at various times during their lives. It is thought that women are more likely to have depressive episodes partly due to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause and pregnancy.
Men are less likely to seek help for depression, so it often goes undiagnosed, although they exhibit the same typical symptoms as women, it may also be accompanied by angry and aggressive behaviour or abuse of alcohol and drugs. Suicide can be a serious risk for men experiencing depression and figures show they are four times more likely than women to take their own life.
If you identify with these symptoms of depression, and they just won’t go away, you may want to get some help.
- Insomnia or problems sleeping, perhaps even sleeping too much
- Poor concentration and easy tasks becoming more difficult
- Feeling hopeless and worthless
- Obsessed with your negative thoughts and hard to be positive
- Lost appetite or overeating
- Loss of interest in previous hobbies or being with people
- Decreased energy levels
- Annoyed or irritated by even small things – and this is new for you
- Crying or feeling overwhelmed for no reason
- Thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)
There’s a vast difference between “feeling depressed” and suffering from depression. The despondency is unrelenting and overwhelming. Some people describe it as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. They feel they can’t escape their unhappiness and despair.
However, some people with depression don’t feel sad at all. Instead, they feel lifeless and empty. In this apathetic state, they are unable to experience pleasure, even when participating in activities they used to enjoy, they feel as if they’re just going through the motions.
These signs and depressive symptoms vary from person to person, and they may wax and wane in severity over time, in any case, why not talk to me about how we can change the way you feel and find the right way forward for you?
Important: If you are experiencing 5 or more of these symptoms and have done so for over 2 weeks, seek medical depression help immediately. Serious depression and manic-depression seem to have hormonal, and/or chemical aspects that are activated by stress and upsetting life events and thoughts. Thus, when the depression is this serious, you always need to be evaluated by your GP, who will decide if you need medication, in addition to other therapies.
Depressive thoughts – future or the past biased?
When we are feeling depressed or going through an emotionally challenging phase of our life we tend to worry, it’s normal and it’s the way our old brain tends to work because it is basically an instinctive and emotional mind. As far as our old animal mind is concerned it can’t really tell the difference between the future, the past or even a dream, this means that we worry about everything even though most of it will never happen.
During depressive periods most people ruminate and become introspective with their thoughts and they tend to focus on the worst outcomes, perhaps thinking to themselves; “Why does this always happen to me? or “This is just like what happened before – I can’t face that again.”
To break out of this unproductive depressive cycle of thoughts it is important that you begin to doubt yourself, doubt your mind and especially doubt your own doubt. Turn it around so it works for you – doubt the fact that it might happen again – doubt the thought that you can’t do anything about it. Start looking to the future with an open mind and start planning what you will do, rather than what you are trying to avoid.
It can be so stressful to try and control the world so you won’t get hurt, easier to just let it unfold, knowing that you will do your best. Hard I know, but very possible in my experience, especially if you have someone like me to guide you.
How depression affects sleep
A depressed person’s sleep pattern may become very disrupted, this in itself can be very distressing. The role depression plays on sleep is huge and needs to be addressed as part of the depression recovery program.
Depression sufferers tend to ruminate and worry excessively “What if this happens? What if that happens? If I feel this low how can I…? They shouldn’t be doing this to me.. When will it all end? Etc. Stopping this racing mind or constant internal dialogue is quite an important aspect of reducing depression and getting sleep routines on track again.
It is now widely recognised that excessive ruminations (or worry) when consistent over a prolonged period of time changes the way our brain processes sleep. We tend to sleep in ninety-minute cycles, once the conscious ruminating part of our mind slows down we nod off and slowly move deeper into the slow brain wave recuperative sleep that is so essential for our body. Then towards the end of the ninety-minute cycle, we move into the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep where we dream, which is thought to be the brain’s way of allowing us to experience the things we feel we are missing out on in life and to practice strategies to keep us safe.
We then start the process again and again through the night with each cycle slowly moving focus away from the deeper recuperative sleep and more towards the dreaming states.
In people who are feeling depressed, anxious or fearful the pattern is different – they spend more time getting to sleep, then, they don’t achieve the same depth of the essential slow wave sleep, and finally, they dream for twice as long as normal, often waking up between these ninety-minute cycles.
This combination leaves the sufferer absolutely exhausted each morning. One surprising fact is that the brain uses 20% of the calories we consume each day to function and when we dream it is using more energy than when we are awake and resting. I’m sure you have awoken from a bad dream and found your yourself sweating, a racing heart, all agitated and alert, the body and mind have to work hard to dream.
Lack of sleep tends to reduce our natural state of motivation when we are feeling happy we tend to do things and that gives us a feeling of achievement and a reason to be here. Poor quality of sleep lessens our natural motivation response, which means we do less, feel less achievement and then feel we have no meaning or no purpose. On the road to recovery from depression, it is important that you don’t wait for motivation to return, you need to start doing things, motivation will slowly return later.
Learning techniques to calm the ruminating mind and get back to the normal deep levels of sleep are an essential element in recovering from depression.
It is thought that postnatal depression is no different from normal depression and approximately 15% of mothers may experience these emotions. In the past it was thought that this was down to hormonal imbalances, however, there is little evidence to support this and many mothers experience postnatal depressive feelings quite a few months after the birth when the hormonal levels are reasonably back to normal. (There is one exception to this where the woman’s body makes antibodies against the thyroid gland, a simple test can confirm this and then it is easily treated.)
The real reasons for this form of situational depression are lack of sleep, disrupted lifestyle, giving up work, loss of identity, the natural concern and worry for your child – this leads to excessive worry and brain exhaustion, which kind of, clouds judgements and leaves you feeling emotionally overwhelmed. This is especially exaggerated in those women who have a more black and white style of approaching life “Will I be able to cope? Or, won’t I be able to cope?”
So, circumstances, exhaustion, self-image, self-fears and the need to be a woman, a mother and a lover all conspire to overwhelm the senses leaving you biologically and emotionally susceptible to depression. The treatment for postnatal depression is the same as for any depressive state – take responsibility, be more social, have a vision, learn how the mind works, stop worrying etc. This is where I can help you.
Please contact your Doctor immediately. If your Surgery is closed you can contact a support group, such as, Samaritans www.samaritans.org 08457 909090 especially if you are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
Therapy for overcoming depression
So, depression is really about feeling trapped, about feeling helpless and having no hopeful feelings about the future.
Armed with this new information about depression you can see that it is possible to pull yourself out of this dark place and you are not a powerless victim of depression (unless you want to be). I can help you in so many ways to re-engage with who you are, what you want and how to regain control of your emotions and the motivation to move forward.
It is not easy, it will take time, you will need to face some facts and make some big decisions – and all this will have to be done with that nagging voice in your mind that is saying “It’s not worth it.” Well, I think it is.
Working with me you will learn about yourself, what character type you are, what internal emotional conflicts you may have, how the mind works, how emotions work. You will begin to set goals and begin the journey of deciding what you actually do want from life (not what you have recently been focussing on which is what you don’t want.)
It is normally 6 – 8 sessions over a couple of months and I also supply you with hours of recordings that help you understand your emotions more fully. It is important to say at this stage that it is not my responsibility to fix you, I will do all I can do to help you to help yourself to grow out of the emotional quicksand you currently find yourself in.
My style of working is to support you as you reconnect with who you are and what you want. To do this I use a whole range of therapies, psychological routines and plain common sense to gently reeducate your unconscious mind and help you turn the big problems into manageable ones and open the door on a new vision of what you do want and how to get it.
Please don’t become the person who suddenly finds them self at a certain age feeling that life has passed them by – it really doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let your current negative feelings tell you that it is not worth doing it, I suggest you try and only then will you know for sure.
Give me a call 01280 731155