Many of the people who contact me tell me that they are suffering from depression. Walking around each day with little or no enthusiasm or energy to do what needs to be done or feeling sad or heavy, unable to do much more than lay on the couch…or, if going to work or attending to the family, feeling lethargic and putting on a good face that is not authentic to how you feel.
Let me tell you a bit how I approach depression and depression therapy.
First, depression is considered medical condition and is often treated as such. If you go to your doctor, you will most likely be prescribed an antidepressant (for example, Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, and many more. Early in my career I would have told you that I was biased against medication as the primary mode of treatment. After working with many clients over the years, I realized that someone should not have to suffer any longer than necessary if there was a medication to remedy the suffering. There are always tradeoffs with taking medication but if they help you to function better in your life, then I support their use.
One important thing to mention is that most of the research shows that antidepressant medication is most effective when taken in conjunction with counseling or therapy. While medication can lift mood and energy, it cannot work with the mind to explore perspective or provide tools for coping with the ups and downs of life. Counseling can help with that.
So, this all being said, I approach depression differently. I tend to see depression as a symptom of an underlying condition, namely, unresolved trauma and unexpressed emotions. By trauma I am not referring only to the type we hear about in the news such as that experienced in combat or as a victim of a crime or a weather incident or other incidents that can be overwhelming and traumatizing. All of those can be traumatic and can contribute to a prolonged feeling of depression. We call those the Big T Trauma.
The more subtle type of trauma is what we call Small T Trauma. Most people tell me that they have not experienced trauma. Most who have had pretty abusive childhoods know they had trauma but those who have not been beaten or sexually abused don’t feel they’ve had trauma. Small T Trauma can result from either chronic childhood stress (for example, constant put-downs, an alcoholic or addicted parent, blatantly unfair treatment, sibling abuse, bullying in school – or on the internet, a mentally ill/unstable parent, watching a sibling being abused, and the list goes on)….or any event that may not qualify as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but was impactful enough to overwhelm the body and brain’s systems resulting a lot of “stuffed” feelings.
Feelings, or emotions, are natural reactions to an array of events that occur in life. If we were taught and shown how to have and manage these feelings we’re going to be pretty balanced and stable in life. If, on the other hand, our parents, family, teachers, friends/peers or culture teach us it’s not OK to have these feelings and, possibly, even ridicule or punish us for having them, we learn how to not have those feelings. However, the feelings still happen; we learn how to push them underground until that becomes our natural response.
Meanwhile, all the energy of those feelings are being stuffed into and absorbed by the body. They don’t go away; they just accumulate inside until they either explode (rage episodes, psychotic breaks, etc) or result in depression (or anxiety or illness). That may explain why so many with depression describe it as feeling so heavy and, after processing and releasing some of the old energy, say they feel so light.
I had one client who said she had never felt “OK” and had always had some degree of depression. She did have a pretty abusive childhood with a constant flow of put downs and criticisms. We identified a series of events that came to mind for her using energy healing therapies specifically designed to process and release these old trauma. We worked together for just a few months. She had to release her fear, shame, anger and sadness. She had to develop some understanding and compassion for the child who went through the abuse. She came in one day and told me that when she woke up that morning, and looked in the mirror, it was the first time she could remember feeling happy…or, at least, lighter and optimistic.
So, while depression is a tangible, uncomfortable experience its origins are both physical as well as emotional.
As such, I work from the inside out as well as the outside in.
The inside out is where we work with the brain and central nervous system to get to the origins and contributors to the depression. I use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR®), the Flash Technique and Brainspotting to work with the brain and body to release the stuck traumatic memories. Even if you don’t know exactly where the depression came from (and it’s usually an accumulation of experiences…not just one incident) we can work with the body and brain to reduce its impact. In addition to EMDR®, Flash Technique and Brainspotting treatment, I use guided imagery and ego state visualization as well as body awareness therapy and releasing to finish unfinished business and to start creating new “neural pathways;” to continue the release of the old…all to make room for the new.
The outside in is where we find strategies that work for you to manage and challenge the thoughts and behaviors related to the depression. This might include breathing exercises, heart coherence exercises (check out Heartmath.com), movement/exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy with thought challenging and changing perspective, laughter, and whatever we can find to help you daily manage the depression and improve functioning.
Contact me today to start your depression therapy.
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