|Depression - Brain|
N.B : This Blog is NOT against using drugs in treating depression. The information below, hopefully, can help the sufferer understand what happens to the mind of a depressed person and how they can be helped holistically to stop it now and also stop it from coming back. It is not meant to offer medical advice and is for information only.
If you suffer from clinical depression you know only to well how desperate, lonely and helpless you can feel. Usually, people with depression have one or more of the following :
- Exhaustion on waking
- Disrupted sleep with upsetting dreams
- Waking early in the morning & unable to get back to sleep
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Stop doing things that normally interests them
- Finding that energy levels improve as the day goes on
- Anxious worrying, upsetting thoughts
- Becoming tearful & emotional for no apparent reason
- Bad tempered & irritable
- Feel miserable & sad
- Lack of sex drive
- Find it difficult to think clearly
- Have no confidence
- Spend alot of time worrying about what will go wrong or has gone wrong and then feel guilty about things
- Feel like life has passed you by
- Feel like life is not worth living
- Feel like life is unfair and treats you badly – you are worse off than everyone else
- Aches and pains which have no physical cause
- Wanting to be left alone or feel scared to be left alone
Only a qualified doctor or health practioner can formally diagnose you with clinical depression and they usually prescribe anti-depressant drugs i.e Prozac and therapy.
However, the Holistic approach to depression helps to cure the causes that lead to the depression and help stop the depression from returning. Anti-depressant drugs treats the symptoms but not the causes.
It has been suggested that depression is an imbalance of a chemical in the brain – but can this be true, is the ‘imbalance’ the source and root of depression? It is possible but it does not make sense. Why is depression on the increase – there is more now than 50 years ago, especially in teenagers – and human brain chemistry can not change that quickly.
In many cases there is a reduction in the amount of neurotransmiters i.e. serotonin and norepinephrine in depressed people, however they are sympoms not causes.
Could it be due to our lifestyle now.
Below is a list of how things have changed in the last 50 years :
- Breakdowns in families – one parent families – children being looked after by people other than their parents
- Families moving away from their extended families
- More news coverage
- Increased focus on material possessions
- Increase focus on the ‘Self’
- Lack of community - people not even knowing neighbours
Why are we Depressed
I truly believe its the way we think about things. If you are told from an early age that you are stupid, worthless, no good or pathetic eventually you will believe it. Your pattern of thinking will start to form in childhood. If you have a bad experience it can perhaps leave you feeling sad, angry, hurt etc. and you then start blaming yourself for it and thinking it happened because of you – its the way we explain things to ourselves. We were told we were useless so obviously thats right we are – thats how a depressed person interprets it and it can seem impossible to break – BUT IT IS POSSIBLE to change the way we think.
Even good things that happen to us can be interpreted differently by a depressed person i.e. You have an interview and are offered your ideal job – a depressive style of thinking would interpret that he only got the job because others turned it down! Depressed people often doubt themselves but seldom doubt their own judgement about how they interpret things. Things get distorted.
Its common for depressed people to feel they have no control but they can also feel that they have to much control. To little control stops them doing things that could improve their situation like all the things they enjoy. Too much control they can get angry and frustrated when things don’t go their way – they begin to feel nothing is ever going to be right again.
It is very common for depressed people to live in the past and dwell on times that were not good, often blaming others for how awful they feel.
Depression and Dreaming
When we go to sleep we have REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when we dream and Slow Wave Sleep where we rejuvenate, emotionally and physically, leaving us to wake feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
However, if you are depressed you may notice you think and worry alot, especially on a negative basis and you are left feeling anxious, angry and helpless with no end result but more stress. When you go to bed these thoughts are still going round and round in your head leaving a ‘loop’ in your emotional system (limbic). When you are asleep your brain has to do something with these thoughts and the emotional ‘loop’ to complete it – so we dream. Normally the brain creates scenarios to complete the ‘loop’ and we have a normal sleep routine with ‘normal’ type dreams.
A depressed person spends to much time in REM sleep and can experience the same recurring or weird dreams so adrenaline and other stress hormones are active in your system and flooding it. If this type of dreaming continues your body and mind become exhausted and you are just as exhausted when you wake in the morning. If you wake very early in the morning it is your brain that is trying to cut down on the REM sleep to try and lift depression.
Most depressed people feel worse in the morning but begin to feel better as the day progresses and their hormones replenish themselves.
Before you go to bed try to relax and cut down on the bad negative thoughts in your head as this is, in fact the quickest way to lift depression.
Below are some ideas you can use :
- Essential Oils can also help with relaxation, a few drops in a burner to inhale, a few drops in your bath or applied to your pillow. Oils such as Lavender, Clary Sage, Lemon, Orange, Chamomile, Geranium Rose and Neroli.
- Using a relaxing sleep DVD while you are reading a book can help.
- Excersise during the day, whether its walking, swimming, horse riding, cycling etc. and on a regular basis.
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Go to bed by at least 11.30pm and get up no later than 8.00 am in the morning, even if all you want to do is stay in bed.
- Eat healthy, sensible meals three times a day. If you want to snack in between meals choose something healthy i.e. fruit.
- Cut down on alcohol, coffee and cigarettes.
- Go to work – this helps to keep you from ruminating to much
- Keep a daily diary of how you feel – grade your days 1 to 10 where 1 is the worst day and 10 is the best. After a couple of weeks you can look back to see how things have changed
- Try to calm your emotions
- St Johns Wort has been known to help with mild depression.
- Think about seeing a therapist – but choose carefully. More about that next.
Is Depression Inherited
Although depression appears to run in families, generally, it is not due genetics. It is more likely to be learned by children from living with parents who are depressed - as we grow up we learn habits and life from those around us.
Treating Depression with Psychotherapy or Counselling
All psychotherapies are not the same and some can worsen rather than help depression so please choose carefully.
Therapy can give you emotional support, look at behaviour, teach social skills and look at the cycle of depression and give you ways of breaking it. Good therapy will break the cycle of depression as quickly as possible and help prevent it returning and give you the skills to do it.
Depression is maintained by how we interpret things – i.e the meanings you put on things is extremely important in determining how we feel. Depressed people will often say “Its all my fault” “I’m no good” “I’m useless” “I knew it would go wrong”
A good therapist will help you change the way you think about things
If you have asked some-one to call you back and they don’t a depressed person is more likely to think “they don’t want to talk to me – I have upset them” rather than assuming they are busy or away.
Often relationships go wrong and the depressed person will say “I knew they would leave me everybody eventually does” rather than think I just haven’t met the right one yet and when I do all will be fine.
There are actual words that many depressed people use which can be a warning sign are :
A good therapist can help you change the way you use these words i.e.
“I’m awful at art but I’m pretty good at sports
Part of the film was terrible but parts of it were so funny
Things aren’t usually impossible to do you might just find some parts harder than others
You might think your holiday was a disaster because it rained everyday, when in fact you still had a wonderful time despite the rain and that it was quite fun to be out in the wet”.
A major reason for being depressed is the rigid way we think and and the way we see reality. A good therapist can help you challenge this rigid way, give you alternatives and begin to break down the depression.
Some people suffer from ‘fash backs’ if they have had a bad episode in their life and have post traumatic stress disorder. It is then difficult to think rationally but with the correct technique called the ‘rewind’ technic or NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) this can be cured usually in one session.
How to Choose a Therapist
The best proven approach for treating depression, holistically, is a combination of cognative behavioral and interpersonal therapy. Try to find a therapist who understands the link between dreaming and depression. Beware of therapists who want to drag up past painful experiences or childhood experiences as this can worsen the depression. A good therapist will talk of the present and how you feel now and over a short period of about 20 sessions help you focus on the following :
- The way you think about things
- How you relate to other people
- How you can use practical problem solving to help
- Help you to feel better about yourself
- Remove any post traumatic symptoms
- Help you understand what depression is and how to relieve yourself of it and stop it recurring
- Teach you how to lower your feelings of anxiety and anger
- Talk to you in terms that you can understand
- Does not drag up the past once anything relevant has been discussed
- Help you develop social skills and help you with any intimacy problems like sex, affections and friendships
- Teach you how to deeply relax
- Help to empower you so you can think of problems in a new way
- Increase your self confidence
- Increase your independence
- Keeps track of your progress
One of the most important things is you have to like, trust and get on with your therapist.
You can learn how to lift your depression and stop it recurring – do it NOW.
Further fantastic reading is :
How to Heal your Life by Louise L Hay
Self Help programme by Uncommon Knowledge at :