What exactly is depression?
We can all feel down in the dumps. However, depression is more than that. It’s stronger and causes much more disruption to your mental health. If you’ve been feeling low, depressed or down for quite a while, you’re probably experiencing depression.
Typically, people who feel depressed describe feeling low or numb. They have little enthusiasm or motivation to be active.
Social interaction can be tiring, and many people isolate themselves by spending a lot of time alone.
Many people I’ve seen for therapy have shown signs of being highly self-critical. They give themselves a hard time, blaming themselves for being weak or a failure.
Millions of people suffer from depression, and there are some very effective ways to tackle it. I say this because you may be feeling hopeless that life can get better. The truth is that there is always hope because we know how to treat depression effectively.
What causes depression?
Many people who suffer from depression have had difficult life experiences. Growing up, you encounter grief, abandonment, neglect, abuse, exclusion, bullying, and criticism. These experiences are often overwhelming for a child, and you learn to disconnect from the pain and distress.
You become a master of avoidance and throw your time and energy into activities that help you escape. You learn to detach from real life and enter a fantasy world that offers protection.
Unfortunately, you create a void in your heart by choosing to keep yourself at a distance from people. You learn to sacrifice the chance of love and intimacy for survival. You condemn yourself to loneliness and self-reliance.
The more inactive you become, the more time you have to think. Unless your environment is full of nourishment, you will dwell on the dark side. Endless rumination consumes your mind. Instead of finding a way out of your depression, you sink deeper into despair.
In summary, distressing life experiences cause depression. However, avoidance maintains it. By learning to approach life again, you can lift the fog of depression.
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Was I born with depression?
There is one dominant and unfounded myth about why people get depressed. For decades, pharmaceutical companies have claimed that depressed people suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain. However, there is no evidence to substantiate it. It is simply not true.
Unfortunately, many people today, including many healthcare professionals, incorrectly believe the chemical imbalance theory. It has created the conditions to prescribe millions of so-called anti-depressants worldwide. They falsely declare that these drugs rebalance the brain to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
There are now millions of people taking prescriptions for anti-depressants, and for most people, they have a minor positive effect.
However, many people say that it has helped. It’s been a lifeline when no other help was available.
While these drugs can help for a short period, they do not help long-term. Addiction can take hold for many years, and it can be hard to stop taking them. If you want to start or stop taking prescribed drugs for depression, I recommend you work closely with your GP or Psychiatrist to agree on a suitable plan.
If you want to pursue a drug-free approach to resolving your depression, we can help you.
How can you be happy?
I think that most people want to be happy. Many things give us satisfaction short-term, and it can be hard to find deeper longer-lasting fulfilment. Studies show that people tend to feel better when focusing on eight healthy habits. They are:
- Being Active
- Connecting to people
- Living in the present moment
- Lifelong Learning
- Giving to others
- Getting enough sleep
- Minimising exposure to toxicity
- Eating nutritious food
Your happiness will improve if you try to do a little bit of these things every day. It’s not always possible to do it daily, so ensure you do as much as possible each week.
It’s not easy changing your behaviour. It’s so easy to eat poorly, laze about, withdraw, and stay up late. The modern world is full of convenience food full of sugar and additives. We carry computers around in our pockets that give us endless escapist entertainment. We can waste the years away doing very little, creating a state of disillusionment.
However, there is a great deal about which to be hopeful. We know what habits make us happier and healthier. If only you knew how to break the bad habits that keep you stuck.
What can you do to lift your mood?
Evidence shows two practical approaches to improving your mood and overcoming depression. They are:
- Living by your values
- Practising mindfulness, acceptance and self-compassion
To lift your mood, you must do what you love. While it can take time to find enjoyment again, you must start to build a routine that will make life more fulfilling and meaningful.
It’s not that simple, of course. If it were easy, you would have done it by now. Humans are not perfect. We have evolved and learned to adapt to our environment in powerful ways. However, our capacity to think and use language gets us into big trouble. Unlike our fellow animals who cannot verbalise their thoughts, we humans can think ourselves into despair, dread and hopelessness.
To tackle our flaws, we need to develop mindfulness, acceptance, and self-compassion skills. It takes practice, patience and persistence. By working with one of our therapists, you will learn to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to overcome these challenges.
How can we help?
Many people we’ve helped with depression describe wanting to feel normal again. They want to be how they used to be and get back to their old selves. They want to feel like they can cope with work demands, relationships, parenting, going out and getting up on time.
We help by teaching you ways to lift your mood and reduce depression. We can help you:
- Build up your motivation and energy
- Get into a better routine
- Increase your confidence and desire to see people again
- Cope with the demands of work
- Reduce self-criticism
- (If needed) Create a plan to deal with thoughts of killing yourself
If you’re feeling suicidal, we want to help you in the best way possible. We don’t rush in or overreact. If you need to see a Doctor or a Crisis Team, we can arrange that. A lot of the time, people need a space to talk about it. Everyone’s situation is different, and we’ll focus together on what will be most helpful.
Our therapists aim to get to the root of the problem. You’ll have the opportunity to explore what’s happened in your past that made you vulnerable to depression. We can use this understanding to look at how you cope and its impact on your mood and build new strategies that give you better stability.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) can leave their mark on you even when you are older. It can cause anxiety, depression and trust issues. You may want to understand more about the impact of these experiences. Our therapists are skilled and experienced in this area, and they can offer you the support you’ll need to get past them.
Can I book an appointment?
Successful treatment of more severe depression often depends on working closely with a therapist. We offer therapy both in-person locally in Birmingham and remotely online using video. Please find out more about how treatment works and session prices and meet our team of CBT Experts.