The rates of depression have risen by almost 1000% since 1945. There are many reasons for this increase one of which is because depression has largely become de-stigmatised and there is less shame attached to admitting to suffering. There is, however, no gene for depression and no physical test at the doctors to see if you are depressed or not.
Depression has a ripple effect from the individual out to family, relationships, work and physical health. A depressed person feels hopeless and lacks motivation. This leads to them often being passive. They have black and white thinking and spend a lot of time ruminating on negative thoughts. This creates stress and anxiety (even if there seems to be a degree of flatness). And quite often a person has exaggerated emotional response to things.
Although life events may make us vulnerable to depression research has shown that depression isn’t primarily events driven. It is not so much what happens but how a person responds psychologically to what happens.
Our emotions are a form of communication and the message that our depression is conveying is “my life isn’t working”, “I’m stuck”. The person will lose confidence in their ability to problem solve. This spirals them down into negative thinking which prevents a person from seeing anything in a positive light. This further generates and maintains the depression. Physical signs include exhaustion, aches and pains, agitation – can’t rest, cravings –appetite disturbances – eating more, stop eating, bowel disturbances, sleep disturbances.
Emotional rumination and increased unresolved worries, thoughts and feelings cause the brain to attempt to clear them with the metaphorical process of dreaming and the person will spend more time in dream sleep (REM – rapid eye movement). Throughout the night we all have cycles of REM (dreaming) sleep and deeper (non-dreaming) sleep. Studies have shown that depressed people dream up to 3-times as much as non-depressed people. Their brains are busy for much of the night discharging the emotional arousal built up during the day and this dreaming uses all the hormonal neurological systems that would be used in real activity and so exhausts them.
When we are tired we are more reactive; When we are reactive we are in survival mode; The sympathetic nervous system – fright/flight response is activated. The opposite of this is the parasympathetic nervous system where endorphins (our feel-good feelings) are flowing and we are operating from our creative logical mind.
The first intervention for the stressed anxious/depressed person therefore would be to learn how to access the parasympathetic nervous system to gain an element of control over how they think, feel and behave. Belly breathing techniques and self-hypnosis helps us to access calm feelings whenever we need them so that we can enjoy a deep, healing, night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and less reactive in our waking life. Mindfulness meditation helps us to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling. When we are aware we become conscious and can challenge and even change our patterns of thought into those that are more positive and logical.
If you would like to learn these techniques to take control of how you think, feel and behave then contact me today on 07708 961 073 to make a booking. You will receive a free meditation or self-hypnosis cd during your first session. For booking information to alleviate depression go to this page and to manage stress and anxiety here.