The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly – you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over. It’s almost as if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself. ~ Eckhart Tolle
Clinical, or major depression is the world’s primary mental disorder and the second most disabling condition in the world behind heart disease. It is also growing at an alarming rate.
Clinical Depression is often said to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and this is what most drug treatments are based on. Certainly in many cases, there is a reduction in the amount of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in depressed people.
However many psychiatrists and psychotherapists have long believed that low serotonin levels are simply another symptom of depression, not a cause.
The more negative thought patterns we submit to and the fewer pleasure-giving activities we participate in, the lower our serotonin levels become. However, by changing our thought patterns and being more connected to the world, we can turn this around by affecting our serotonin levels in a positive way and thereby lifting our depressive symptoms.
This is really essential to understand since if you truly believe that your recovery is impossible because you have a ‘condition’, turning things around becomes an impossible task.
Whilst I am fully aware that clinical depression is far more than a prolonged sadness, or a period of grieving and I would certainly never lump stress, anxiety, and depression under the same umbrella with the same diagnosis or outcome, it is necessary to note that these chemical imbalances can be found on occasion in all of these situations. Certainly prolonged stress can lead to depression which in turn can lead to ill health.
I would also like to state that whilst I am not anti drug therapies in any way, the statistics show that drug therapies that work on this chemical imbalance lift depression completely in only a third of those who take them and only partially in another third. For the last third of people, antidepressants don’t work at all, and many will even experience side effects which are worse than the depression symptoms that they are supposed to be treating. Antidepressants are also much worse at preventing relapse than appropriate psychotherapy.
All of this seems obvious when we consider that the chemical imbalance associated with depression is a symptom rather than a cause.
Depression acts like a vicious circle because the more depressed we feel the more likely we are to frame events/ourselves/others in a negative light. The more we frame things negatively the more depressed we will feel.
However, this does NOT mean that the answer is positive thinking! We simply need to train ourselves to be more realistic and in this way break the cycle.
Inoculation for depression
Children who are taught to come up with multiple possibilities for why things happened (some of which don’t reflect badly on them) are less likely to become depressed as adults. They literally become more flexible in their thinking. This early teaching of emotional skills has been termed ‘stress inoculation therapy.’
The more possible explanations we can develop, and the more effort we put into doing that, the harder it is to attribute an immediate and absolute meaning to an event, and the less likely we are to experience a negative emotional reaction.
Depression literally distorts our perception so that good becomes bad and bad becomes disaster. It’s clear that if we only have limited interpretations for why things happen, then change can seem difficult.
For instance, you call your friend and they don’t answer the telephone. Someone who is depressed is likely to think “they’re avoiding me” or even “no-one likes me.” Whereas other much more positive explanations would be, “they’re busy right now and they’ll call me later” or “perhaps the phone was on silent or in another room and they didn’t hear it.” However, training our brains to have this more realistic approach can be difficult without help.
It can be especially difficult if we have already learned or trained ourselves to feel helpless. This is obviously not something we do consciously but nevertheless is quite a common process in every day life. For example perhaps after several bad relationships, you may get the feeling that ‘no matter what I do I’ll never be in the right relationship’.
Or someone whose parents divorced may have unconsciously developed the feeling ‘I’ll always lose any people I become attached to.’ Being abused by a partner may lead you to imagine that you have no control in relationships generally.
Learned helplessness is exactly that – learned. Life experiences can cause ‘learned helplessness’ – by reducing your feeling of control as well as your available options in a situation, it can further add to the depression.
However, because it is learned, this means we can learn to challenge it. New skills can break this pattern.
In almost every situation, there is (at least one) acceptable alternative. Sadly, depression rarely lets people see it. This is why help from a correctly trained professional can be invaluable. They will be aware of the common thought patterns you may be experiencing, and have experience in helping you break out of them.
We can then, often with a good therapist, increase our number of total available responses in a given situation, and so increase our feeling of control.
It is this sense of control, which is so important. We may find ourselves in a situation where we have little control – such as waiting for the result of a medical examination, or waiting to learn whether someone still wants to be our lover. The only control we have during these situations has to be internal. By exercising control over different aspects, such as how or when we will react, we can retain a sense of control instead of feeling helpless. However, taking that first step towards this retraining of the brain can seem like a monumental effort from a place of depression.
Energetic healing and working with flower remedies can release the client from the seemingly vice like grip that depression can have and allow a healing process to begin.
The more we polarize our thinking the more likely we are to become depressed because extreme either/or thinking stimulates the emotions much more. Statements such as “I’m no good at anything” or “She’s perfect” or “I’m just a failure!” are oversimplifications and cause massive emotional swings. Few marriages, holidays or jobs were complete disasters but generally had different elements within them.
Equally it is true that often people who suffer from depression need less stimulation to get really ‘up’. It has often been heard that the one with suicidal tendencies is always really happy on the outside and is the one seemingly always having fun. People who experience extreme emotions -positive as well as negative – are much more prone to depression.
For a healthy emotional life, it’s not more extreme happiness we need, but balanced emotions. For less depression, it’s not more happiness we need, it’s more calmness.
The question is, “how do we achieve this?” Sometimes when we are so depressed it is hard to see a way out. Meditation techniques can be really simple to learn and super effective but having even the motivation to do this can seem like an impossible request of ourselves when we are depressed
Energetic healing and working with flower remedies can bring clarity and allow us the breathing space we need to be able to see a way out of our mental quagmire.
This treatment does not replace the help you can get from a qualified therapist – having someone there can make all the difference – but if you are getting help, it will make that help all the more effective.
For further help, please contact me for a consultation. I offer these by distance so I can work with you wherever you are in the world. ॐ