DEPRESSION – Kim Calnan, Clinical Psychologist writes on her approach to dealing with this surprisingly common problem.
Depression – Well at least people now talk about it !
Over recent weeks on the TV there has been several well known people talking about their lives and their depression. Nearly all accept their depression is there and that it will come and go and that they’re stuck with it. Most have had therapy of some sort.
One guy was told to put his depression behind him and move on. He seemed highly conscious as if this depression was going to catch up with him and overwhelm him. I felt for these people because depression can be worked through and dissipated. It’s like a festering sore that can be healed and the person can move on and lead a normal life.
Depression is often referred to as a mental illness, which is a label that can be quite burdensome and undermines a person’s self esteem. I see depression as a condition that can be worked through if the person is willing to put the effort in.
Medication is not the only answer
Many doctors prescribe anti-depressant medication which can help if the person is so down they can’t function. But Martin Seligman, a well known psychologist who has published several books, has surveyed the research on anti-depressants. At best he found anti-depressants came out equal to a placebo. He also found that if taken long-term, the research indicates it can be harmful.
A safe and secure environment to talk about depression
So if someone decides to come and see me, in the actual therapy session my main focus to start would be to establish a safe, caring place where they can express how they feel and how they are coping with the issues they have brought it.
Often these are ongoing issues with parents, or siblings, or spouses or children. Some come in with problems with work colleagues or friends. We explore these issues sometimes finding it relates to issues from childhood. For example in the work place they may feel left out.
On further enquiry they also left left out of the family growing up. We expose these areas and look for the possible emotional pain and help them express that and get it out.
I always ask people to do things for themselves at home. This is both empowering them that they can make life changes and helps them to keep motivated to continue therapy. I may suggest they start exercising such as a 30 minute brisk walk of 120 steps per minute that will raise their metabolism for 12 hours.
I may suggest writing their feelings down each day and express those feelings particularly if it was not permitted as a child. If they are open to it I may suggest Mindfulness/meditation each day to help clear the mind and relax. I also work with dreams and if the person is willing to write down any dreams then I will help them to interpret them.
I see therapy as part of the journey of life. We all, whether in therapy or not, learn and grow as the challenges of life come up. In my therapy sessions with people I try to help them to help themselves with the tools and skills they have in themselves. Life is a journey and I am their teacher for part of their journey – that’s how I see myself.
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