Overcoming Depression with Hypnotherapy
Depression is not always easy to diagnose and many people suffer this life-limiting condition without ever seeking treatment (or sometimes even knowing it is the problem). Those who do seek treatment may try one type of treatment and if unsuccessful, give up; resigning themselves to a life of misery! But it is important to know that while depression is a condition that affects many different people, it does so in many different ways. It is because of that, that what method works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another. So, if you have tried one, or many ways, to beat depression and you have not yet overcome it, please keep on trying, trying because it can be difficult!
In his excellent book ‘Treating Depression with Hypnosis’, Michael Yapko PhD, says “Hypnosis is not a therapy like psychoanalysis or behavioural therapy. Instead, it is a procedure that can be used to facilitate therapy”. First, the Therapist guides the client into a Hypnotic state and therapy is then used to assist the client. The real work takes place in the client’s brain and continues to do so after the therapy session has finished. Often we say the change occurs through the mind, conscious or subconscious, but the actual change occurs in the brain. This is so because of the unique way that our brain communicates within itself and then with the world outside. In some sense, our brain is a unique sensory processing machine. How it processes information, is somewhat dependent on how that information was first stored and we often play no conscious part in thata process. Much of our brain's initial storage occurred in our early developing years. The bigger issue with that is that our brain did not have the structure or skills necessary to store that information, at least in a way that would serve us well as adults. We store information based on observation and experience, however, as we develop we begin to use our education, training and experience and this allows us to put different perspectives on those earlier memories. What that leaves us with, on occasion, is the intellectual awareness that something is, or is not, alright but we do not have the emotional capacity to change that!
But what does that mean? Well, it means that knowing something logically, rationally, cognitively etc. does not necessarily equate to knowing it emotionally! For example, someone with a fear of spiders (arachnophobia), as an adult they fully understand it is illogical, they know this tiny little 8 legged creature won't hurt them (unless you live in a country where they can). So, armed with all the logical, rational and intellectual knowledge that the spider won't hurt them, they should be able to manage their emotions when confronted with a spider, its web or merely the mention of one . . . but they can't. As soon as they hear or see anything related to a spider, they go into a full phobic response. Logic rarely cuts it with emotion and that is because evolutionarily speaking, we are first and foremost emotional beings, cognition came much much later!
Depression, for the most part, is more emotional that logical. Parts of your brain just aren't working how they should. However, why that happens is not always clearly understood. Sometimes the brain's chemistry just goes out of sync, that could be caused by many things, e.g. genetics, infection or disease, brain lesions, accidental damage or trauma, even diet or poor oral hygiene could be involved. Other reasons could be personal, e.g. loss of a loved one, a pet, your job or home or any number of personal tragedies that befall us. Then there are things like natural or manmade disasters, earthquakes, terror attacks etc. However, no matter what the causes of depression are, it how we find a cure that really counts. To that end, hypnosis, in my opinion, is a very effective modality, one that allows each of us to discover our deeper self. And it helps us do that without the usual barrage of conscious mental distraction. The therapeutic strategies that I apply in the treatment of depression are fully explained, when we have a better understanding of the way our brain functions, it helps to both demystify it and remove the nebulous "me" from the equation. I say nebulous because we have this dreamy notion that what we refer to as "me," our own self, is something separate from our brain. In fact, it is the other way around, we are our brain, and the physical self is merely the gofer! When we begin to fully understand who "we" are, life begins to have more meaning, more purpose, more direction. We do many things to make the shell look pretty, slimmer, more attractive etc. but it is the inside that counts. When you like what's on the inside, the outside becomes far less important!
I continually find that clients that present with depression, at any level, are struggling with the vagueness of their life and its meaning for them. Life is often ambiguous, in that we don’t really have the answers for most of life’s most challenging questions and this can leave anyone a little dizzy thinking about it, let alone looking for answers to give meaning to their existence. However, the real value in life is in its simplicity; I guess this is why someone came up with the KISS principle: Keep it, simple sweetie!
In the masterful work of the late Dr Victor E. Frankle (a Holocaust survivor), 'Mans search for meaning' this need for meaning in one's life is made very clear. More than this it shows that the how, of life, is far less important than the, why of life! In his book, Frankle says “Life does not mean something vague but rather, something very real and very concrete, just as life’s tasks are very real and concrete. They form mankind’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual”.
In pursuit of one’s destiny, Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy and EFT can produce good results for many individuals suffering from depression. This is often not an easy or instant fix but steady progress can be made with the individual truly wanting to overcome this life restricting condition. To a large part, this is reflective of the neural changes that take place in our brain. The brain changes (neurogenesis) by making new cells as well as weakening or strengthening existing cells and networks of cells; but this often takes time!
From a clinical perspective, there are some very effective medications that help counter the effects of depression. The key point, however, is that they mostly deal with the symptomatic side of the condition and not the problem causing it! However, if you suffer from depression, relief of any kind is often a very welcome one!
The downside to medication is that it very often comes with unwanted, and sometimes very severe, side effects. My biggest concern, experientially, is that Doctors rarely alert their patients to these side effects and considering that some medications intensify the feelings of anxiety and or depression, clients can be left feeling even more helpless!
In consideration of an argument for medication, one has to look for evidence of a disturbance in the brain’s neuro electro-chemical function (the neurotransmission that is the mainstay of neural communication) and equally important, the many connections that are made in and across networks of brain cells (neurons) and brain regions. These connections determine the quality of life in both normal and abnormal situations. In fact, the way we live at any point in time is a result of those very connections; because everything we do is consequential of brain activity.
Rarely, in my experience, do Doctors and Psychiatrists have the time to do extensive questioning that could lead them to the root cause(s) of their patient’s depression. However, if we find the cause, which is more often than not, a consequence of the patient’s life experience, we can treat the cause of the problem; no problem; no symptoms!
As well as the two forms of treatment for depression, therapeutic and clinical, both of which have a history of good results, there is a third option and that is a combined therapeutic and clinical approach. In this combined approach evidence suggests a higher rate of recovery and a decrease in the condition reoccurring. My own take on this is that the medication helps the client/patient stabilise their mental and emotional responses so that they can more readily accept the therapy. Very often the way into a client’s psyche is blocked by the disruption that high emotional states cause.
So, in conclusion, if you or someone you know suffer from any form of depression, or depressive type behaviour, seek the advice of your healthcare professional, but look for one who is willing to work, or already does, with complementary healthcare professionals, e.g. Psychotherapists, Hypnotherapists, EFT or reiki practitioners.
If you think you might be suffering from depression, you should always visit your GP or Medical Advisor for advice and help in the first instance.