I believe it is fair to say that depression, as an illness is not fully understood. Neurologically, there are characteristic problems arising in the neurons in the brain. The Neurons are the electrochemical transmitting and receiving organs that allow us to think, move, and function. When we receive a stimulus, the information is transmitted to the brain where it is evaluated on many levels. How we process this information inconjunction with our physiological makeup affects how efficiently the neural network functions. There may also be a biophysical component of depression in which our body chemistry is not balanced which also affects our neural functioning. How we think, feel and behave all have an impact on how we cope with life stresses, which come in the form of different types of stimulus. Because we are all so unique, how we are affected by life stresses are also highly individualized.
Treatment of depression is not rocket science, it is much more complicated than that. In severe cases of depression, medical intervention in the form of medication may be required. This however is only the first step. Medication deals primarily with the symptoms, not the causal agents of depression. The previous blogs deals with some of the causal agents of depression; loss, change, pregnancy, season, death, addiction and so on. In short, when we are faced with situations in life that challenge us we are exposed to stress. If we feel that we are not able to deal with these challenges we may feel overwhelmed and may begin cycles of feeling inferior, helpless, and alone. It is interesting to note that when a person is in depression they are often not able to identify their situation clearly, A case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. It is this state that I am able to help you. One of the greatest difficulties for the client is to find the motivation to get help. Counselling alone or in conjunction with medication can be successful in helping people come to terms with depression. An optimum treatment regime would target the three basic components of our being, Thinking, Behaviour, and Emoting.
As a starting foundation taking care of our physical needs is essential. Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep must be part of the cure. By eating well this means having a well balanced diet of the food groups in appropriate portions. Exercise is also found to aid in the reduction of depressive symptoms. As we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins, which are self-generated chemical compounds that give us the sense of well-being, which is the long-term objective of treatment. Exercise also helps us to regulate how well our body clocks function, which is a component of how well and long we sleep. As you may see already we are a very complicated system.
Working with the thinking and emoting component of ourselves is often one of the more difficult. As we live we form our values and beliefs about our world. These serve to help us cope with the challenges of living. When we run into situations for which our values and beliefs no long provide help, we are left without support. This loss of control may instil fear, and anxiety, which in turn may interfere with our being able to function in our daily lives. Which is where consultation with a counsellor becomes important. As Carl Jung once said that our distressing symptoms often provide us the clues with which we may heal ourselves. My job as a counsellor is to provide empathy, objectivity and perspective, to the client. Depression takes us into ourselves and provides the opportunity to look at how we internalize our stress. The truth of course is that as a general rule we do not want to deal with the painful internal issues. As an example, when a loved one is ill or dies, we may be faced with the reality of our own mortality or infirmity. Many of us do not willingly want to know that life can be a fragile and ephemeral thing, and this can lead to internal conflict. Examination of our internal beliefs and values can lead to immense personal growth, which is often essential in the scope of living a meaningful life. The therapeutic process in counselling provides the confidential, safe, and non-judgemental environment in which to deal with the unique and difficult psychological issue of living.