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Saturday, August 24, 2019

How can you Overcome Depression?

You Can Overcome Depression

What can I do? What can others do? Is there any hope at all? While in the pits of depression it can be daunting or indeed just seem hopeless as to know what to do or what might even have the most remote chance of helping us or the situation we may be in. On top of not knowing where to turn, what to do, or what may even work or help us at all, it can just simply seem too much to even think about as it may sap the tiny bit of energy we may still have (if there is any at all!). Even making a cup of coffee can take such an enormous effort while in the pits of depression. Some people may have an opinion of somebody who has depression as just plain lazy and that they have an attitude problem. However, depression is a medical problem and this can even be proven by methods such as brain scans which can reveal that a person’s frontal lobes in their brain in a severe depressive state may actually shrink up to 7% (Ref. TTSR). Fatigue is part-and-parcel of depression, but in order to increase our chances of getting back on our feet and living our usual lives again, as hard as it is, we need to make some choices which slowly may help us bit, by bit, by bit to start to even just give us a tiny sense of control and belief that things can turn around.

There are some things that we can do ourselves, however we hear so much on television and so-forth about things such as diets that may ‘cure’ depression and it may seem easy for some as to suggest “simple” treatments but things can seem so complicated for the sufferer too especially if they have tried things in which they have had no success. Depression is actually quite complicated. It is complicated in terms of exact causes and what really is the best for treatment of it and what is suitable for intervention in overcoming depression or what works for the treatment of depression. Some people believe that depression is caused from situational circumstances or psychosocial factors such as environmental stress and certain types of personalities and how a person perceives certain things in relation to certain life circumstances and others come from more of a biological and genetic school of thought in where they look at biological and genetic elements and then there are other ideas of the cause of depression along the lines of neurotransmitter abnormalities (chemical problems in the brain) and more. So, we tend to ‘treat’ depression or look at things we can do as influenced by our thinking as to the causes (although some psychotherapists do not dwell on causes much at all in relation to ‘treating’ current problems). If we are to think that certain foods may help depressive symptoms, well we can do it. The point here is that these are some of the things that we CAN do and try.
In acknowledgement of the tyranny and hardship or adversity of depression, it can be very difficult to try certain things by ourselves, let alone manage by ourselves! A person with major depressive disorder may find it exhausting or overwhelming or simply too much to even read a pamphlet about depression ( for me, I had problems even reading a birthday card as it seemed so challenging/ problematic/difficult/draining ). However, there are certain things that other supportive people may be able to help with who aren’t necessarily a doctor or therapist such as a local member of a church or possibly any other person if they are prepared to try to help a bit, and other ideas or things we can do include things such as making an environmental change ( or changes ). Self-help groups can be rewarding for some people ( for me it wasn’t though ) but again we need to recognise and acknowledge that doing these things for a person with a nasty case of depression can be very daunting yet on the other hand again we also need to aware and put things into place about learning how to help ourselves too. For example, a common misconception about counselling is that a therapist will tell you what to do. This STRONGLY goes against the principles of counselling in most situations. People who go to see a counsellor are best served at learning how to help themselves ! Counselling (from a therapist’s point of view) is about assisting people to help themselves. There is a big difference in doing for others as in such things like advising them what to do and working with people in the endeavour that people (for example with severe depression) will learn how to help themselves.

One of the goals of certain types of therapy is that it is aimed at the client becoming his/her own therapist or we could say knowing how to treat or help themselves. This is relating to certain principles of particular types of psychotherapy and yes, we need a therapist to help us adopt such skills and develop these skills, so initially we may directly need others which brings us back to what we can do directly for ourselves

So, we can seek others for help. We can do this ourselves. It might be talking to someone that you may know in whom you feel may listen to you. This can help a bit with environmental change. Someone may volunteer to go to a support group with you. Yes, some people have nobody, nobody close or who they feel they can trust though. But a question to pose here is even if this is the case, is it really realistic to think or say that there is absolutely nobody who would even listen a bit ? You could speak to your doctor and this doesn’t necessarily mean only talking about or referring to tablets or medical things. Some people may be surprised to discover that a lot of telephone counsellors can also be very valuable to talk to even if this simply means that we can externalise/ vent/ get out even just a little bit of our frustrations, worries, concerns, anger, confusion and so much more. The amount of community help in many societies may be surprising to some. Doctors (or General Practitioners) manage up to around 90% of patient with mental illnesses in the community. This may help to give us an understanding about the value and validity of talking to people such as General Practitioners. They, and many others do an awful lot in helping people to restore some sort of normality back in their lives.

As far as what we can do coming from a point of view of how we can benefit from OTHERS helping us, this can come in the form of obviously medication, but also psychotherapy at least while we are in need of assistance from others. Psychotherapy CAN help and it is used affectively for the treatment ( or at least partial treatment ) of depression. It is generally recognised that psychological treatments alone are most useful for people with mild to moderate levels of depression, not chronic or major depression. Most people do best with a combination of antidepressant tablets and some types of psychotherapy.

Checklist :
What can we do? :
* talk to a doctor
* seek therapy
* why not try certain foods and/or avoid certain foods
* call a telephone counsellor
* go to a self-help group
* go to a counsellor
* talk to any other person such as a minister
* change your environment

Well, what is the best way to treat depression ? It is a common question and poses many responses. We are in a world where we hear so much about depression such as how many people now battle depression in one form or another ( of which there are now more cases per person compared to our previous generations ), the causes, the best ways to treat depression and even cures for it. If depression was such a simple thing to ‘treat or cure’, wouldn’t we all be clear about what to do? Is there really A (single) cause of depression, OR are there multiple causes? When I had a lengthy period of a major depressive disorder, my treating physicians told me that the cause was BOTH situational and biological. It made sense to me that they didn’t say there was only one cause. We will look more at causes of depression in later posts.

The point here is that a number of us tend to look at only one ‘cure’ for depression in terms of thinking that depression is caused by one influencing root cause such as depression only being caused by cognitive (thought) processes. There is clear evidence that in cases of severe depression the frontal lobes in the brain can shrink up to seven percent. What causes this in itself is yet another topic for discussion. The general gist of this writing though is to approach the ‘what to do’s’ and so-forth with an open mind and to look at various possible alternative answers, suggestions and ideas. So, is it ALL cognitive? Is this a result of cognitive distortions or in other words do faulty thought processes lead to this? Or, does something happen in the brain itself (neurobiologically) which influences our thoughts processes? Is there only one cause and is there only one ‘cure’? If depression was so simple to cure, wouldn’t we ALL know how to do it and all be experts on prevention of depression? We’ll look at these points in following passages.

What about even with highly reputable forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy which is employed commonly for dealing with depression in terms of validity, deployability or usefulness of it? Is it well-suited? Generally, yes it is. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) aims at helping people to become aware of their irrational negative thinking and to replace this with new (adaptive/constructive/rational) ways of thinking and talking and also to practice these positive approaches. Note that is does not look at causes, hidden motivations or reasoning behind things but what we can do (not the ‘why’s’ but the ‘how to’s'). Yet still, does this imply that the cause/s and treatment/s of depression can be all dealt with in one package without other types of ‘cures’ in the overall treatment? Why is medication alone often not enough to overcome depression? Why are there modern-day cures such as self-affirmations, ‘secrets’ that we can discover to heal depression and so-forth? Or is it more of a holistic type of reasoning as in more than one or even several different causes and treatments of depression being viable?

So many of us ask these types of questions and are desperately looking for answers. We are such complex beings and the reality is that depression IS a complicated thing. However, our lives no NOT necessarily need or should become complicated. Some types of therapies do not focus on causes or the whys of problems, but focus on the how’s; how to deal with problems without knowing all the root causes or unconscious motives or problems. Again, so many therapies with so many theories and hypothesis’ although there are some proven reputable therapies such as CBT which do have a solid reputation and solid grounding on the framework of such helping resources. If things were so simple though, are there so many treatments, cures, therapies, theories and proposed answers ?

Arguably, perhaps we would be well served in looking far more widely than just searching for THE cause/s, THE ‘cures’ or how to’s and perhaps approach dealing with depression with a repertoire of tools not just one or two. What works for one may not work for another ! If counting sheep put everybody to sleep (with insomnia or the like) then why would many other ideas have eventuated such as breathing exercises? If positive self-talk alone is THE cure for depression then why are there other treatments such as ECT in which has been regarded as literally saving people’s lives under certain circumstances, or of course medications? The point is that certain things such as positive affirmations may work miraculously for some but do others need a bit of something else too. We also need to be aware of all the different types of depression and what we are really dealing with. One may justifiably debate that negative thinking leads to problems that need treatment with ECT and medication yet another may argue that biological determinants have stronger influences such as the bodily or hormonal changes in a woman with post-natal depression. Are things really that simple to claim there are ‘simple’ causes and ‘easy’ treatments? Perhaps not.

Whatever one may think (and rightfully we are all entitled to it) why not have a look at several ideas, methods or “tools” we can use to combat depression instead of allocating all of our faith in one or in limited things. As the author of this site, I do not claim to be any sort of expert in any type of treatment for depression, but I have insight into certain elements through my own experiences and education in the field of mental health, counselling and psychotherapy. Maybe many people hold the key to overcoming depression and this might also include practicing or working with or utilizing our own internal resources. We have a repertoire of weapons we can try. Why does one soldier carry a bayonet with a rifle and another a pistol? Maybe it partly depends on their circumstances or different exposures they may be faced with, so why use just one approach to treat every facet of depression for absolutely everybody? Our faces are all different on the outside so why wouldn’t we be all so very different on the inside and this includes how we interpret things? No two people could possibly experience exactly the same things while suffering depression in terms of of our cognitive processes (the mental activities associated with our thinking, knowing and remembering), our thoughts, our interpretations and the unique feelings, and responses and beliefs that we all have in relation to any given circumstance. For example, two people may be diagnosed with “recurrent depressive disorder, current episode severe without psychotic symptoms”, yet experience this form of depression in different ways referring to the individuals personal beliefs and so-forth but not necessarily pertaining to clinical symptoms. Are we all so simple that we can all be cured in the same fashion as in by just putting all of our faith in one “cure”? Perhaps not. Perhaps that might contribute to why we tend to see so many different solutions advertised, promoted, suggested and even sworn-by, but maybe we need to also utilize more than just one “fix-it treatment” alone.

So, what’s the best way to treat depression? Maybe it’s an approach of using not just one thing. Counsellors and psychotherapists have (and many do use) what is known as an eclectic approach (or theoretical integration, but this is a bit different) and this means that they don’t just use one type of psychotherapy for everybody. One person may respond well to one type of therapy (for example, Gestalt therapy) and another person may be unresponsive to this but responsive to say Person-centred therapy. So the point is that perhaps the best treatment broadly speaking is something like this eclectic approach, not all and entirely one thing and one thing only. Of course in certain situations for certain people, methods such as ECT would be the most appropriate sort of treatment and so-forth. What then are some general ideas or tools that are available to us in conquering (including preventing) depression?
* Various psychotherapies
* medications
* counselling
* exercise
* foods/ oils/ herbal remedies
* affirmations and cognitive exercises
* environmental change/s
* support groups
* spiritual connection
* meditation

For now, let’s take a closer look at therapies and why and how they are used to help people with depression. If therapy is a tool for managing and defeating depression, what type of therapy is it and what is it about? Not all types of therapies are widely used by therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists in the aid of overcoming depression. However, there are certain types of therapies that are recommended used for helping those with depression and they have a good track-record and this includes cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal therapy (Ref…to be added…….).
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