Depression can indeed feel like a bottomless pit

Counselling & Psychotherapy for Depression

In: Depression, Featured Home, Individual psychotherapy

Depression is the most prevalent of mental health problems. Studies have shown that it occurs in 1 in 10 adults or 10 per cent of the population in Britain at any one time, (Healy, 1998, Hale, 1997). It is quite common to experience a depressive episode as a reaction to an event. It also happens that depression sets in “out of the blue”, and does not seem to go away by itself.

This experience can be deeply painful; poet John Keats wrote to a close friend: “I am in a temper that if I were under water, I would scarcely kick to come to the top”.

This experience can be deeply painful; poet John Keats wrote to a close friend: “I am in a temper that if I were under water, I would scarcely kick to come to the top”.

It is part of life’s requirements that we should be able to tolerate periods of low mood, and it is to be expected that sometimes we find ourselves challenging the value of things and of life itself. Psychotherapist D.W. Winnicott (1958) wrote of John Keats that:

“[he] was someone who took the risk of feeling things deeply and of taking responsibility. […] If we look at depression this way, we can see that it is the really valuable people in the world who get depressed.”

If however we have an entrenched feeling of futility and find ourselves disempowered and persistently disengaged from life, this is probably something worth attending to.

How can therapy and counselling help with depression?

In my experience it is possible to understand and successfully to address depression through the process of psychotherapy and counseling. The aim of this process is to allow insight to emerge and to use the therapeutic space as a “springboard” to reconnect with oneself, with others and with the world.

What happens when we get better
By: Cedric
Depression can indeed feel like a bottomless pit

In a few words: depression combined with anxiety

In: Anxiety, Depression, Individual psychotherapy, Short articles (<500 words)

Depression with Anxiety: a common problem

Very often, psychotherapists in London and elsewhere will mention under the same breath that they help people with “anxiety and depression”, almost as if it were one and the same thing. This is probably because, according to the ONS, there are almost three times more people who suffer from both depression and anxiety that people who suffer from depression alone. Indeed, depression with anxiety is experienced by 9.2% of people in Britain, while depression without anxiety by 2.8%.

What is the relationship between anxiety and depression?

It is hard to say if unmanageable anxiety triggers depression, or if a state of depression generates anxiety. It depends highly on individual cases and even then It often feels like a circular situation and in my experience it is not helpful to try and find out what came first. The essential is to help the client address these feelings as a whole in their therapy, and to consider anxiety and depression as intricately linked as opposed to separate phenomena requiring different approaches.

An apparent paradox

It sometimes seems paradoxical that depression, whose symptoms are said to be mostly negative (i.e., describing the absence of something), can co-exist with anxiety, whose symptoms are mostly positive (i.e., describing the presence of something). For example, in depression, sufferers experience lowered mood, loss of motivation, loss of meaning and loss of concentration, while in anxiety it is the positive symptoms that seem to prevail, for example, increased heart rate, presence of recurrent unpleasant thoughts and restlessness.

How to approach individual treatment of mixed anxiety and depression

As an experienced counsellor having helped many people deal with issues of mixed anxiety and depression in London, I have noticed that people suffering from this problem fall in three very broad categories:

  • those who feel that they will benefit more from guidance and education, and expect from the therapist clear instructions and coping strategies,
  • those who prefer a non-directive approach and want to explore their experience in an open, unstructured manner,
  • and those who feel that it is most helpful for them to experience both in their therapy.

As an integrative psychotherapist, I believe that it is best to offer my clients what is going to be helpful to them and not just what a specific approach says I should do. This is why I mostly offer my clients a space to be with themselves and also a forum where they can clarify, understand and plan concrete life changes.

By: Cedric Tags: , , ,