We may have emerged from the winter, but the darkness still lingers. You can sense it in a heaviness tugging at your limbs, or the biting anger that flares, or even the blank-minded excessive eating. Depression has not melted away with the snow, and as the evenings get lighter we realize that we cannot just ignore it.
Depression is not an occasional off-day. It is a persistent feeling of flattened, negative thoughts and emotions, where you experience symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for two weeks. There are different types of depression (Major Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Persistent Depression, or Dysthymia), but no matter the type, we need to take action.
When I work with people I often explain the depression cycle. This is where our thoughts are negative, and this causes our emotions to darken, which in turn stops us from doing the things we usually enjoy. The less we do, the more our thoughts become negative, and the worse our mood becomes, and so we do even less.
The first step we need to take is to break the depression cycle by doing more of the things that usually would make us feel good. Even though we don't feel motivated, if you force yourself to do just one thing on that list each day, you can give your brain a new experience (one of achievement rather than avoidance). This can help to lift the mood, and make the thoughts more positive, and, in turn, you feel more inclined to do more.
This is a very brief explanation of just one of the things we may explore together. Sometimes when we start to tackle the depression, we discover that there are reasons why this depression descended in the first place. For example, they may have experienced trauma, and this set a template for how they viewed the world. Trauma is more common than many people think, and it includes adverse childhood experiences such as bullying, or witnessing your parents divorce, or growing up with a caregiver who is depressed, emotionally distant, or in some other way unable to meet your needs.
To find out more, get in touch today.
Chris Warren-Dickins, Psychotherapist
Ridgewood, New Jersey