Depression

Depression isn't something you have, it's something you do (with good reason).

Depression

I understand depression as a creative adjustment to adversity during a time of no or limited support. Therapy in this context is about getting some of that support now, and safely expressing what is being depressed in an appropriately paced manner.

My approach to working with depression starts with exploring how you are experiencing your depression. The word “depression” covers a wide range of possible experiences that differ from person to person; I want to develop a course of therapy that addresses your situation.

British culture at this time views depression as an illness that happens to people. In my experience as a therapist, depression is more usually related to the kinds of events a person has experienced, and what they’ve needed to do in order to get through them.

An analogy I use to explain this is of someone who sprains their ankle badly. Without appropriate support, that person will automatically adapt to the injury by using different muscles and movements to hold their weight. Over time, they develop a limp that persists even when the original injury has healed.

Depression is similar in the sense that it involves an automatic and often unconscious adaptation to what is happening in a person’s life. This can range from being punished for emotional expression as a child and so turning those feelings inwards; to suffering extreme personal difficulties without adequate support from others.

The common thread is that powerful feelings and emotional expressions need, for whatever reason, to be held inwards, ie depressed. Hence the experience of depression frequently involves feeling lifeless, or having the colour and vitality drained from experiences.

One of the common experiences I've noted in people working on their depression is a fear that if they start expressing what they're holding back, they will lose control in a dangerous way. This can be expressed as, "if I start crying I'll never stop", or "if I let myself get angry I could hurt someone", or a more general fear of "going mad".

Therapy is a safe place to identify what needs to be expressed, and to find ways of expressing that aren't overwhelming.

Speak up!

Ask your MP to oppose NICE’s draft guideline for depression

UKCP recently issued a press release urging NICE not to publish its guideline for depression in adults. They provide a bullet …

Stressed person

Millennial stress: the more things change, the more they stay the same

This year, Mental Health Awareness week is themed around stress. As part of this, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy …

dandelions in a field

Weeds or flowers? How neurosis is all about context

One of the core concepts in gestalt psychotherapy is contact. Specifically, gestalt therapists are interested in what happens …