My ‘D’ in my A-Z of hypnotherapy and life coaching is depression. Depression is a horrible condition to live with and it affects so many of us. Thankfully, people are more open in their discussions about depression and awareness has increased greatly, but there is still so much misunderstanding around the condition and treatment options tend to be limited.
Many of hypnosis and life coaching clients who suffer from depression talk describe it in terms of having a very physical, as well as mental, effect. Depression isn’t just feeling sad. It can slow people’s ability to think and express themselves. It can cause major lethargy and deep fatigue. People can feel achy and lose, or gain, their appetite. Depression also tends to be accompanied by distorted thinking and this type of thinking often feels like a critical voice on your shoulder, telling you that you are wrong, and bad, and that you should feel guilty.
People with depression have often suffered trauma in their earlier lives at a time when they may have internalised messages about not being good enough, or feeling abandoned or unloved. We’re still learning about genetic and biological causes of depression which may be linked to serotonin levels and inflammation. It’s likely that in many cases there may be a mixture of genetic predisposition/ biological reasons for depression and that there is also a link with early life traumas.
The majority of current anti-depressant medications tend to be Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and include Prozac and Citalopram. They work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Whilst they do improve many people’s depression, they do come with side effects and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises that medication is prescribed in conjunction with talking therapies for the treatment of depression. Unfortunately, waiting lists for talking therapies tend to be lengthy and it can often take months to see a therapist on the NHS.
Both hypnotherapy and life coaching can really help if you are experiencing depression. Hypnotherapy can help you address the roots of earlier trauma, and, whilst you are in a state of hypnosis, you can be helped to comfort your younger self and to release the guilt, resentment or anger which may still be contributing to your depression. When I am working with hypnotherapy clients who have depression, I work with them in a gentle way, encouraging them to make connections with what happened to them when they were younger with how they are dealing with life currently. When you have depression it is easy sometimes to blame yourself and to think there is something wrong with you, that you are somehow damaged or ‘not right’. Revisiting some of the reasons you might have become depressed is not about attaching blame to your early caregivers, or about developing an unhealthy obsession with your past. What we are doing is trying to give you an explanation, to show you that you are a perfect, precious human being. During hypnotherapy, I also encourage clients to find some way to comfort themselves and to work through those earlier experiences so that they don’t keep cropping up in the guise of unresolved issues.
Hypnosis can also help with depression by helping you to accept the positive comments of the hypnotherapist, in contrast to focusing on those negative voices in your head (which maybe originated with the voices of people who were influential in your past). During hypnosis, you enter a more imaginative, creative, and accepting state of mind. We discuss some of the negative ideas and voices that you have got used to listening to, and question – how accurate are these voices? What would you like to believe? From an adult perspective, what is the real situation? I help clients, using hypnotherapy, to challenge their unhelpful beliefs and change these to more helpful – and realistic – thoughts and beliefs.
Hypnotherapy is also wonderful for depression because it is such a lovely, relaxing experience which allows the mind and body to rest and replenish.
Life coaching can help you if you are depressed by encouraging you to set achievable goals, and to focus on the process of working towards those goals. What is often more important than reaching a specific goal is sticking to those things that you know will help you move forwards and this is especially true of depression. There are so many things you can do to help yourself, such as maintain a good routine, eat healthily, avoiding coping mechanisms such as drinking and drug taking, and taking care of yourself. Life coaching will help you stick to these measures. It will help you identify a process which is right for you, and stick to that process. Depression can feel like tunnel vision sometimes, especially on a really dark day. Life coaching will help you see the bigger picture, and working with a hypnotherapist or life coach will mean you have their support so that, even if the depression is tricking you into thinking that you’re not making progress or that everything in your life is crap, your therapist will be there beside you to help quieten the negative self talk which is so exhausting.
When I working with my hypnotherapy and life coaching clients, I don’t guarantee that they will be cured from depression, but I can assure them that both hypnotherapy and life coaching will help shift their perspective, will help them adopt more supportive behaviours and that they will have the tools and strategies to deal with their condition in a far more effective way.