Conquering Depression

Conquering Depression

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like share insights into depression and how to conquer it.

First a quick update:

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Now, let’s talk about depression, what it is and ways to treat it.

Let’s begin with some statistics about depression.

  • Major depression affects approximately 15 million people over age 18 in the US each year
  • Women experience depression twice as often as men
  • There is higher rate of depression in married women versus single women and many have depression at child birth
  • On an average out of 3 depressed women, only one will seek professional help
  • One in seven men will develop depression within 6 months of becoming unemployed
  • Main reasons of depression in men are separation after marriage, widowed, divorce
  • Approximately 80% of people experiencing depression are not currently receiving any treatment
  • 80-90% of people who live with a serious mental illness are unemployed
  • More than 90% of persons who die by suicide have a depressive disorder
  • Approximately 4% of adolescents develop serious depression each year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24
  • Depression weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to other medical illnesses
  • Depression increases chances of dying within 6 months after a heart attack
  • By the year 2020, depression will be the 2nd most common health problem in the world
  • Depression is one of the most treatable illnesses: 80-90% find relief

Now, let’s take a look at what depression is and is not.

Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell developed and established “Human Givens Psychotherapy” and authored the book “Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking.” Joe Griffin says, “Depression is usually caused by worry about needs not being met – needs for control, for security, for meaning, for intimacy, connection to the wider community etc. – and by misusing some of the innate resources. Worry, for example, is a misuse of one of our most powerful innate resources, that of imagination.”

The generally accepted model and cause of depression is the theory of chemical imbalance in the brain. Dr. Peter Breggin, psychiatrist and author of “Medication Madness”, shocked me when he told me based on scientific evidence that “As far as we know, the people who routinely come to psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors for help, feeling anxious or depressed or even very, very disturbed have absolutely nothing wrong in their brains. In fact, we wouldn’t even be able to measure a biochemical imbalance in the living human brain… Well, we all have brains and brains struggle. Human beings struggle but the problem isn’t within the brain itself. The problem is in the complexity of human life and in the complexity of the stresses that we face growing up and then living in the world and the stresses of having existential choices and conflicting values. The human life has always been difficult from recorded history as early as anybody was writing.”

For years, I have taught that depression is about emotional overwhelm, unresolved worry and anger (often turned inwards and not felt justified to be expressed.) The anger though, covers the deeper pain of needs not being met, unresolved emotional worry and anxiety; of pain, suffering, loss, disappointment, loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness, frustration, etc.

World famous actress and soap star, Linda Dano, lost her husband of 20 years, the love of her life, Frank, in 2004. And on the day of his funeral, she lost her other best friend, her mother. Linda told Ability magazine that Frank “filled all of the areas of my life…Everything I did, he was involved in. He was someone I trusted and could count on. He was more than just my lover and my mate.”

Linda was subsequently diagnosed as having Clinical Depression – a medical illness. This still shocks me. Is it so hard for anyone to see why Linda would be feeling depressed after her two greatest loves, her husband and mother died – just days apart? Is there something wrong with Linda Dano’s brain? Is her pain genetic and predestined or rather, quite obviously is her pain the result of painful experiences in life?

Depression is not ‘genetic’ and it’s not caused by neurobiology, although it has neurobiological effects. Certain depressive attitudes such as pessimism, perfectionism, black and white thinking, learned helplessness are learned and in that sense passed down from parents to children and so on.

Mark Tyrell runs a psychotherapy practice in the United Kingdom. He and Jan Sutton authored the book, “The Giant Within – maximize your self esteem.” Mark Tyrell says “Depression is a state of physical and mental exhaustion produced from too much negative non-solution-focused rumination, leading, in turn, to an excess of REM sleep which further exhausts the depressed person.” In other words, the worry takes over our mind and body, we dream excessively and that exhausts us physically, mentally and emotionally – we lose clarity, perspective, motivation and hope. And we don’t get the sleep we need, the recuperative and regenerative element of sleep, the slow-wave sleep.

Anyone who has ever experienced depression understands the cycle:

  • Always feeling exhausted when you wake in the morning; the more you sleep, the more tired you get; everything seems black and white, all or nothing and; feeling physically exhausted one minute and over-agitated the next

Here are some steps and strategies to conquer depression:

  1. Understand – what you are experiencing is not the result of a brain disorder but rather emotional overwhelm, excessive dreaming caused by negative introspection and rumination, black and white thinking and physical and mental exhaustion
  2. Relax – a depressed brain is a stressed brain – relaxation leads to clarity and new energy; slow down your mind and self-talk (meditate, do yoga, walk and breathe slowly and deeply, exercise, stop watching, reading or talking about news and anything that is negative or doom-and-gloom)
  3. Lower stress – create a routine, sleep early – by 10 PM and wake in silence (avoid news for the first hour after rising); prioritize activities and tasks in your life; simplify your life – give up those things that are creating too much pain in your life (one married couple gave up their high mortgage home to live in a rental property, saying they are now much happier & calmer and their marriage has greatly improved); read my various articles on stress:
    Stress: The link between life changes and illness & injury
    How stressed are you? Take the test
    Reducing the 4 types of stress
    The cure for economic uncertainty, stress & anxiety
    Two powerful tips to reduce stress now
    Top tips for tough times
    12 Strategies to overcome economic fear & anxiety
    Overcoming anxiety
    Removing stress Part 2
    How to remove stress from your life
    The Worry Buster Technique
  4. Plan of action – dreams help to metaphorically act out non-discharged emotional expectations that were not acted out during the day and unresolved worry and problems leads to mental and physical exhaustion via excessive dreaming; thus, take steps to change unwanted situations and resolve problems
  5. Release emotions – acknowledge, own and admit what you are feeling; accept your feelings as OK but release them; forgive yourself and everyone else
  6. Use your imagination positively – for what you want to create; when your mind starts to throw up painful, negative thoughts, say “Stop” or “Cancel that” and then place your mind on the things you want to create; instead of imagining the worst, start to imagine the best possible scenario – either way you are going to imagine something so make it positive
  7. Take steps to have your needs met – identify clearly what you need and what you are missing and work towards having those needs me; get support from friends, family or join a support group – Linda Dano in her quest to help other depressed women emphasizes the need for support from others
  8. Set rewarding tasks – set small daily simple tasks that are achievable and reward yourself for completing them; this breaks cycle of hopelessness
  9. Identify what you can and cannot control – accept what you cannot control, work diligently to take charge of what you can control
  10. Get professional help and intervention – so you can feel differently about the things you cannot change and get help and guidance to find solutions to your problems– hypnosis is a powerful tool for this.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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