Depression has become one of the most common illnesses in society in modern times. Around 50% of people experience some form depression in their lifetime. The condition known as depression varies from a mild versions of sadness that last short term to a serious and debilitating mental illness which only medication can manage (and over time deep psychotherapy can be used to ease the suffering and in some cases help the person back to wellness). Psychotherapy for Depression is one of the most beneficial ways to treat the condition.
What is depression ?
Depression is a state of ongoing sadness or depressing perception of life. This is usually triggered by an event or is pre-determined because of life or family circumstances. (eg. Mother has depression can often lead to one or more of children having depression).
What is psychotherapy ?
Psychotherapy is a form of therapy where the therapist is able to take the client or patient into a deeper parts of their subconscious to get to and change the deeper root cause of the depression. Psychotherapy uses a number of techniques to achieve this.
Medication or Therapy ?
In my opinion medication is not the ideal way to treat depression (or any other mental or emotional unwellness for that matter). Medication usually comes with side effects (eg. The person doesn’t feel the extreme lows but also feels numbed down and detached from life). In my opinion medication is required in more extreme cases or where therapy simply isn’t working and the patient is experiencing ongoing debilitating symptoms. Medication is not a cure it is a managing device. It dulls down the symptoms so that the patient doesn’t feel the worst of the effects.
My experience as a therapist using psychotherapy for depression
Many people have arrived at my office with depression, some diagnosed and some yet to receive a diagnosis but clearly displaying symptoms of clinical depression. My role is to find out the Why. Together, from the very first meeting we begin a journey to find out the deeper reason (underlying cause) of the depression.
Often I see people who have been trying to deal with depression for many years, some for their whole lives. And it depends on a few factors whether I’m able to help them or not. The main factor is commitment, whether the person is ready to change and to become well. I feel confident of helping almost anyone as long as they are up for the journey.
The 2 most powerful techniques used in psychotherapy for depression are called regression therapy and parts therapy. Let’s have a look at both and how they can help someone suffering from depression.
This is where the psychotherapist takes the client into some past event or experience. Using Psychotherapy for depression allows for a number of ways to work with the client, with the eyes closed so the person can go into their imaginary or intuitive worlds.
Sometimes clients know exactly what the event was. In these cases it is easier to help them overcome it. Often we find a through a conscious memory (eg. The day Dad left the family home) and we can take the person back to that moment in time and that’s where parts therapy comes into the equation. (more on parts therapy shortly)
If the person cannot recall anything specifically we begin a search, sometimes through a feeling and we follow that feeling deeper in and we usually find an ongoing experience (eg. Mum was depressed and absent in childhood). It is then that we can do some ego strengthening or some technique to start to help the inner child to heal (the inner child is usually at the core of all issues).
Sometimes when using regression therapy the client can go into memories with a high degree of details that clearly were not experienced in this lifetime. These are called past life memories. I was fascinated when I first experienced a client entering a past life memory. The person was deep in a relaxed space and was feeling the anxiety inside of her relating to food experiences in this lifetime when she suddenly started having visions of herself as a young woman, on a cobblestoned streets starving with no money and no food.
When using psychotherapy for Depression parts therapy is almost always used in combination with other techniques. Parts therapy basically means to isolate one part of the ego (called an archetype) and work with that part exclusive of all other parts. (eg. Most of the time I Love him but sometimes I hate him).
Working with one part is extremely powerful because we can hear the world of that part. For example we can use regression and find a younger Part of us and work with that part.
One woman who came in for anxiety was taken through regression and found herself in a memory where she was about 5 years old. I asked her what was happening “I’m under the table” she whispered, and what’s happening I again asked “shhhh, Daddy might hear you, he’s really angry again”. The memory becomes so real in the moment that the person is actually ‘there’, she is actually re-experienceing that time as if it were happening again. So in this instance I told her I’m coming under the table too, and will be there beside her looking out at Daddy. (this gives the person some sense of being comfort and allows them to stay in the experience). From that perspective I can begin to recontextualize the event. I can say things like “Look at Daddy, he’s really angry, but it’s not your fault, we’re safe here in this memory but this will really help you change in a good way. Daddy’s angry and it’s not your fault, he’s angry at mum, he’s angry at everything, he’s just an angry person”. And we do some breath work, and little by little that little girl (who lives inside of the adult as an archetype or part) begins to heal, deeply heal through changing her perspective.
Often with parts therapy we find ‘protector’ parts. Parts that are designed to prevent anyone getting in and hurting or re-triggering past hurts. These parts hold beliefs in place such as “all men are untrustworthy”, “I’ll never amount to anything”, “the world is a dangerous place” etc. These beliefs are usually passed on by mum or dad (either consciously or unconsciously)
Personal experience of depression
Being a therapist who has experienced depression has it’s advantages. Having been through depression and come out the other side without the use of prescription medication allows me to know the world of someone with depression perhaps more intimately than a therapist who has not experienced that state.
When I was 22 I was diagnosed with depression, and it was strongly suggested that I begin a course of medication by a respected psychiatrist “How long for?” I asked inquisitively. The rest of my life was the answer. And inside me was a strong No Way. And I went about finding my way back from the darkness.
How depression happens
Depression happens when we get stuck in some ongoing negative or depressing thought form or develop some negative focus. Some people are depressed and don’t even realize it because they have always been that way so that’s their norm.
As mentioned earlier it can come about through loss or perceived loss. When we lose something valuable we generally go through a grieving process. How long the grieving process takes often depends on how valuable or special or how dependent we were on that thing. Usually the process is moved through in stages called the grieving process. We move through grief, anger, a feeling of hopelessness but eventually through time, and our processing and/or the help of a good therapist we reach a place called Acceptance. This is a healthy place to be because it means we accept the loss (not forget the loss, accept the loss) and we can start to really get on with our lives without that person, animal, job, car, house, identity, role or whatever it was we have lost.
Depression can go on for years, even for a whole lifetime. And medication can often ‘lock’ the diagnosis in. Now instead of being someone who is having an experience of depression and working my way out of depression, I am someone who ‘has’ depression and that’s that. Many people I see believe they can’t do anything about their depression. This belief is a dangerous thing to invest in.
When people come to me we begin a journey together, the journey uses psychotherapy for depression and a wealth of other intuitive guidance to help the person find thier way out. I feel extremely confident in helping anyone through the mindfield of depression if they are willing to go on this journey.
My office is in Geelong, I provide one on one sessions or skype sessions for those who can’t make it into the office. I look forward to hearing from you or anyone you know who has depression who wants to work through that condition in a natural and deeply healing way. In my vast experience Psychotherapy for depression is the fastest way through this debilitating state.