Depression can be described as exhaustion brought about by a significantly stressful or emotional time. Excessive worrying and catastrophising, always imagining the worst, over-analysing, and inward-looking negative rumination all cause and maintain depression. Not to mention feeling demoralised.
Depression is a signal that things are missing in your life.
You ask yourself what’s missing and as a human being you have important basic emotional needs. For instance…
- A sense of safety and security.
- Purpose and meaning.
- Able to give and receive quality attention to and from other people.
- A sense of control over your life.
- Emotional connection to other people.
- The need for status, intimacy, a sense of community and connection to a wider group.
It’s when these needs are adequately satisfied, that you can start to enjoy mental and emotional wellbeing.
Depression is caused when people spend time in negative introspection about those needs which are not being met. But at the same time stop engaging in practical problem solving. So, for example, if you worry about not meeting that special person, but don’t actually make the time or develop the skills necessary to meet others and build new relationships, you are more likely to become depressed.
When we start to feel down, things that we used to enjoy just don’t feel so great any more. It can feel as if nothing is worth doing… or as if you simply don’t have the energy. Relaxing deeply is a way of recouping lost energy. In fact, depression drains energy from people, leaving them flat and exhausted. If you’ve been feeling down then you probably need to relax regularly and often.
Depression produces highly predictable patterns of thought and perception. Maybe you’ve noticed that you sometimes think in very ‘all or nothing’, black and white terms – everything is either completely this or completely that! Success, failure – totally this and totally that. No grey areas.
You may have perfectionist tendencies or keep imagining the worst possible future scenarios. Both these patterns are central to maintaining depression.
You may have also noticed that it’s harder to think clearly or logically when you feel down. This is because a depressed brain is a stressed brain and therefore it’s harder to think properly. That’s why when someone who is depressed relaxes deeply, they feel so different afterwards. They get their perspective back, or even feel as if they’ve got their brain back.
The truth is that depression distorts perception. Just as an agitated water surface won’t reflect reality accurately or evenly, so an agitated mind will
distort reality. This is why depressed thoughts tend to be overly dramatic and extreme and also disturbing. A depressed person will interpret everything that happens in line with their depressed perspective – just as, in fact, an angry person will distort everything to fit their angry perspective, or a light hearted person can see everything as funny. A depressed person will filter out anything which does not match their depressed view of the world. When you are depressed you don’t reflect reality – you bend and distort it. Not consciously, of course…
When depression lifts you relax more, and your more relaxed attitude allows you once again to see the shades of grey between the black or whites of this world.
So, to sum up, a depressed brain is a stressed brain. A depressed brain distorts reality. And it’s when you begin to challenge the all or nothing dramatic hype that your depressed brain subjects you to that your depression will find its days are numbered.
You can say goodbye to those emotional extremes, all those simplistic, black and white negative thoughts like “It’s all my fault!” or “Everything’s ruined, nothing ever works!” or “They’re perfect; I’m a total failure!”
Instead, you’ll find your thoughts becoming more moderate. You’ll notice yourself thinking thoughts like “Ok, I messed up some things there, but bits of it were fine and those people aren’t perfect either…”
And then you’ll notice you also feel better… and your mind can really begin to make sense of some of these ideas after experiencing solution focused hypnotherapy.