Home Mental Health & Well-Being Diverse Understandings of Depression and Options for Treatment

Diverse Understandings of Depression and Options for Treatment

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Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go, they merely determine where you start (Nido Qubein)

With depression seemingly a constant challenge for many people, the quote above might offer a much needed signal of hope, perhaps when you are struggling to find some.

This, perhaps in spite of the survey results about the state of mental health and well-being in England which recently reported the following statistics about depression:

  • Since 2007 the experience of depression has increased in late midlife men and women (aged 55-64)
  • Depression has become more common in people aged 16–64 than in previous years (1993-2014)
  • Among the 7500 participants it was the most common professional diagnosis

Depression has become more common.

Yet, what is depression exactly? Some people have described it as the common cold of mental anguish
Some may describe it in terms of a complex of symptoms experienced. These may include depressed mood, decreased appetite, fatigue, among others. 

Others may consider the essence of depression as a defence against feelings, wishes and desires.
Yet others may attempt to describe it with the use of metaphors that attempt to capture a rich nature of the experience of depression: galling into an abyss, being over the edge, darkness and lack of control

Perhaps all of these understandings encapsulate a sense of a lack of activity, a state of being below or less than normal – sunken, hollow and sad.

Some people have described it as the common cold of mental anguish.

Whichever understanding of depression holds meaning for you, one thing seems clear and that is that often help to overcome these difficult feelings and experiences is sorely needed.

Referring back to the survey on mental health and well-being in England, the form of help that around half of those reporting having experienced depression were receiving was mental health treatment. In addition, the use of psychological therapies was reported to be generally increasing (since 2007). So what kind of psychological therapy might help then? Well, as is so often the case it does depend on what sense you make of your depression.

However, one popular approach which seeks to get to the root of depression is psychodynamic therapy. Here, the focus is to help understand, to gain insight into the origins and current function of a difficulty) this case depression). It focuses on the impact of life events, relationships hopes, and desires in order to help achieve this understanding.

Another approach is Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy. Here the focus is on how we become who we are and how we grow and change during the life course. When working with depression this is an approach that will help you explore beliefs that may have a negative impact on yourself, and expectations for relationships and life; examine internal dialogue and help replace self-critical with self-compassionate dialogues; and, explore a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness by re-evaluating life experiences. 

A specific way of working within a Transactional Analysis is Relational Transactional Analysis. This is an approach which sees the significant agent for change as the therapeutic relationship. It takes ideas about the patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviours as being directly related to the patterns of relationships – internally and with others. It uses the therapeutic relationship to make sense of other relationships in your life. So, for depression (as with other difficulties) an understanding of how relationships shape us, and limit us, as well as how they can support and help is fundamental to finding a way out of an experience of depression.

Depression is not a singular entity and it doesn’t determine the rest of your life. It exists on multiple levels and there are many ways to find a way through it, to climb out of the abyss, and to have pleasure in life again. 

Liz Jeffries provides a psychotherapy service in Chorlton, South Manchester, working face-to-face with individuals and couples, as well as offering online therapy. Having been through of a process of psychotherapy herself she is passionate about therapy and the opportunities it presents for resolving personal difficulties in life. She is interested in the ways in which anxiety and depression emerge from having a sense of separateness or isolation and from difficulties in relationships, either in the present or in the past You can connect with Liz via her website, Therapy with Liz or via Twitter @TherapywithLiz 


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