Depression is amongst the most common psychological conditions. One in three people will suffer from it at some point in their lives, and counselling is the main treatment used. Depression can vary in severity, from a passing period of melancholy to a severe, isolating malady which can result in suicide or self harm. Many people will mistakenly feel as though professional psychotherapy isn’t necessary for their depression, but finding help is important if you’re struggling. Colloquial usage of the word depression makes it seem minor (such as people feeling “depressed” for a single day), but clinical depression is a genuine, serious condition which requires treatment.
There are many signs and symptoms of depression that can help you identify the condition in yourself or a loved one. It isn’t simply sadness, it’s characterised by feelings of worthlessness, detachment from emotions, lack of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, doing less, withdrawing from others and suffering from feelings of helplessness. People who are depressed will blame themselves for things they aren’t responsible for, lack confidence and have low self esteem, and may cut themselves or contemplate suicide. It’s common for individuals who are depressed to decline help, or not seek it, so convincing them to see a therapist might not be easy.
Several different sub-types of depression exist, with three of the most common being seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder and postnatal depression. People suffering from seasonal affective disorder become depressed during the autumn and winter months due to the shorter days, and can be treated using special light boxes which mimic sunlight. Bipolar disorder involves alternating periods of mania (giddiness, excitement and grandiose plans or ideas) and depression. Postnatal depression occurs up to a year after giving birth, and is more severe than the common “baby blues” many mothers experience. A counsellor will be able to determine the specific type of depression you or your loved one is suffering from.
There is no single known cause of depression. It can be brought on for a variety of reasons, from things which occurred in the individual’s past to individual differences in brain chemistry or functioning. Depression isn’t thought to be genetic, but some people are more likely to get it than others. Generally, it will be set off by a negative event, such as losing your job, a hurtful break-up with a partner or being threatened or physically attacked. Even something as simple as moving house can trigger depression in some circumstances; it’s more about how each individual deals with it. Counselling teaches individuals new coping mechanisms and breaks down spirals of negative thoughts.
In many cases, anti-depressant medications such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are offered as treatment, but this isn’t sufficient in itself. Medicine treats the symptoms (the levels of different neurotransmitters in the brain) but doesn’t address the deeper issues. Without psychotherapy, individuals won’t confront the real issues which drive them to depression, and the condition will reappear with the next major negative event in their life. Medicine should only really be used in more severe cases, and it should always be accompanied by counselling.
If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, finding a good therapist is extremely important. Asking for help is the first step to identifying the real issues and starting to feel better. Don’t just dose yourself up on medicine to manage the surface manifestations of the problem, see a professional to dig deeper and work through the underlying problems.
For more information about our costs for depression counselling services please see the about us page.