What is depression?
We often refer to depression when we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course. But, if the feelings are interfering with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re depressed in the medical sense of the term.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.
There are also some specific forms of depression:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – this is seasonal depression which is related to day length. It usually comes on in the autumn and winter, when days are short and the sun is low in the sky, and gets better as the days get longer and brighter. (See Understanding seasonal affective disorder.)
- Postnatal depression – many mothers have ‘the baby blues’ soon after the birth of their baby, but it usually passes after a day or two. Postnatal depression is a much more serious problem and can occur any time between two weeks and two years after the birth. (See Understanding postnatal depression.)
- Bipolar disorder (manic depression) – some people have major mood swings, when periods of depression alternate with periods of mania. When manic, they are in a state of high excitement, and may plan and may try to carry out over-ambitious schemes and ideas. They often then have periods of severe depression.
Depression is a strong emotion, of which anxiety is a very strong component. It is often attributed to an imbalance or disturbance of two chemicals (or neurotransmitters) in the brain i.e. serotonin and norepinephrine. Norepineprhine is the chemical responsible for generating changes during a “fight or flight” situation (like fear, stress, loss of control). Serotonin is the chemical that binds to receptors on brain cells to regulate emotion, anxiety, stress, hormones and other bodily functions. Our serotonin levels fluctuate constantly, and are correlated with the effectiveness of the way we are living our lives. Low serotonin levels are an index that one’s life is not “working”. Our needs (for security, control, meaning, intimacy etc.) are not being met. We may feel stuck, exhausted, low, unable to focus or motivate ourselves. Thoughts keep going around and around in our heads. We may feel overwhelmed, useless, sad, and sometimes even ill. So the solution is to find ways to fulfill our needs, get our lives working again and step out of depression.
You can learn how to use an assortment of “tools” (hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis, cognitive schemas, NLP etc.) to help you make changes, move away from negative thinking and emotional introspection, connect with others, modify your responses, solve problems and use your imagination in a creative and positive way. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2856099/
Recently there have also been positive results from treating depression side-by-side with insomnia.
“Walking tall, Thinking UP, Feeling light – what a pleasure!” A.E. London