Psychotherapy : Hypnotherapy : Counselling : CBT
Specialist Anxiety Therapist UK
Tom Buckland Psychotherapy Services
Depression is generally thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Antidepressants tablets may help readjust the chemical imbalance and therefore the depression can lift. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t address the cause of the depression, and therefore the depression often returns after the course of tablets is finished.
What causes the chemical imbalance in the brain is somewhat open to different opinions, but the brain and body is controlled by the mind. The mind causes the release of chemicals, both good and bad, and therefore the state of the mind dictates how happy/sad, or depressed we feel. Stress is not about external things in the person’s life, but how a person perceives the situation, and therefore how they feel. The way we feel about ourselves is enough for the mind to create the release of different hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn affect moods and feelings. If the thoughts are negative, you can feel down and depressed and this can affect your sleep, your relationships, and your job.
I started to specialise in treating depression many years ago, and take referrals from doctors and psychiatrists. When treating depression I use a number of different therapies (known as eclectic therapy) to help recognise the cause of the depression, deal with negative thought patterns, and give you the tools to deal with any future upsets without that negative pattern taking over again.
When you feel depressed every thing can seem too much to deal with and you can’t imagine feeling better, but once we start working together, suddenly after a few short weeks, these feelings start to lift and life looks brighter and you feel more positive.
There isn't a short cut to beating depression, and sometimes it can seem hard work, but the results are more than worth it!
I sometimes give you tasks to carry out, and we will deal with any individual issues you want to come to terms with.
The idea of this depression therapy is to help lift the depression and give you the tools to deal with it in the future. A simple way to understand depression is this:
Imagine a road system like the M25. Every few miles there is a slip road taking you off the motorway.
The brain has a system like this roadway called the limbic system. The slip roads lead off to different areas of control. One area helps regulate your sleep patterns, another your body temperature, another your eating patterns, and another helps with your temper. There’s also one for your mood. The brain constantly fires off signals, which travel around the road system to the right slip road and area, and these signals make sure everything is working as it should.
But to make things more complex, imagine, that in the limbic road system, every few miles, there’s a gap in the road. This gap is filled with a ‘bridge’ of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Some of these neurotransmitters are Serotonin and Noradrenaline. If these chemicals are low in levels, the bridge isn’t formed, and the signal doesn’t get around the road system because the signal can’t get past the gap in the road. Therefore your mood, body temperature, appetite and sleep patterns are not being regulated by the brain, and all these parts of you life can be affected.
The low levels of the chemicals can be due to biological reasons (the brain like the body doesn’t always work as it should) but also our own thoughts and outlooks on life can reduce or increase the Serotonin and Noradrenaline levels.
Therapy helps the client use more positive thoughts, behaviours and outlooks to keep the levels high, and therefore feel happy and positive.
Principal depression patterns
The average person will experience regular ‘ups and downs’. These swings can be caused by external events such as a good day at work, your favourite sports team losing, or maybe just a bad night’s sleep. These states can be moderate to severe and last from minuets to hours. Although one could call these feelings being depressed, it’s something we will all have to cope with in life and generally doesn’t inhibit us a great deal.
Some Depressive States
For this, a depressed mood is present for more than 2 weeks and is accompanied by a social impairment such as difficulties in relationships at work or home. Recovering from this depression can often be a natural process and intervention is not needed.
This mood state is more severe and lasts for more than 2 weeks, and is more severe than non-melancholic depression. This can run in families or is brought on by life changing events, and will need intervention. It’s also worth noting that people in their more senior years, and who is suffering from their first bout of depression will often be suffering from melancholic depression. Exposure to certain illegal drugs can also result in this type of depression
Another form of melancholic depression. This is a low to moderate depression and persists for 2 years or longer. Generally people suffering from this are not aware if feeling anything but normal, and simply just do not enjoy their life and always feel sad and anxious. This type often responds well to medication.
Someone suffering from this will swing between the two poles of excessively high and low moods. For someone like this, dropping down into depression can be a massive fall because just a few days earlier life was so fantastic.
Ante and Post Natal Depression
A woman can go into depression both before and after giving birth. Much of this is caused by loss of identity, change of routine, fear of being able to cope and changes to their body among many other reasons. There is also evidence to show that a sudden drop in hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone can cause a depressive state. Post natal depression can last for many years and can go undetected by the mother herself, and friends and family around them. Only when it’s completely lifted, can a mother look back years later and realise just how depressed they were. Post-natal depression affects between 10% and 20% of new mothers.
This depression can be caused by a stressful event, that at first seem not to affect a person, builds up, and leaves a person suddenly feeling low, anxious and then depressed. (This is different to endogenous depression which is a depression which is not a reaction to an upsetting event or trauma)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This depression normally coincides with approach of winter, and the sufferer will feel down, lethargic and will often crave carbohydrates and sweets. There is still a lot of research going into SAD’s and it’s still not accepted by all some medical bodies. Special ‘light boxes’ can be used to help lift a person’s mood when suffering from SAD.
You will also hear the terms, chronic, severe and moderate among others.
There are many other terms used to describe depression and they seem endless. Here’s just a two you may hear occasionally;
Anaclitic depression (depression in infants)
Involuntary Depression (a depression that can manifest itself in people as they reach middle-aged)
Depression in children
There’s more and more evidence showing that depression is affecting younger and younger people. Treating depression in children is a specialised subject and a therapist must be confident at, and have experience of, working with children, and understanding the psyche of younger people.
Depression – the way out of your prison
By Dorothy Rowe
Overcoming depression and low mood
By Chris Williams
Overcoming depression using CBT
By Paul Gilbert
Tom is based in Hythe Hampshire, and also central London.
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