What is Depression?

Everyone has times in their lives when they feel down or depressed. This is usually for a good reason, does not stop you leading your normal life and does not last for a long time.

However, if the low mood and depressive feelings go on for weeks, months, or become very bad, you may find yourself stuck and unable to lift yourself out of them. Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

Some people believe depression is not a real health problem and that the only thing a depressed person has to do is to ‘put up with life and carry on’, like everyone else. They are wrong: depression is as much a real biological disease as is diabetes. It can be absolutely crippling and devastating. According to the World Health Organisation, today more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Depression has nothing to do with being weak or having failed. In many cases it is a natural response to an unnatural situation. ‘Cheer up’ is the worst thing anyone can say to someone who is depressed.

Depression is a complex condition and can negatively affect many areas of our life, like relationships, jobs or physical health. It is also frequently accompanied by anxiety.

There is not a single cause of depression. It is frequently the result of a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Sometimes it is triggered by a radical change in your life, like losing a job, a relationship or having a baby. Those who have to cope with chronic physical ill-health are also more vulnerable to depression.

How can counselling help with depression?

At times it is easier to talk to someone who is not expecting you to be anyone in particular and who will welcome you as you are, where you are, with all your baggage, regardless of how you feel about yourself, the world and your future.

Sometimes the simple act of talking about something which one is feeling, rather than simply feeling it, is the first step towards control and change.

In therapy we also can work towards identifying and exploring the thought patterns that affect your feelings. There are methods that have been proven to be effective at counteracting depressive symptoms. These methods build on the principle that reality and the perception of reality are not the same thing and that our assumptions about the world and ourselves can be rationally examined and tested. This is always done within a safe and non judgmental space.

Some research has shown that cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT, which helps you to review the negative thoughts that trigger your depressive feelings and replace them for more positive ones, is particularly effective.

It is however important that you choose the kind of approach that you feel works better for you as no one method of therapy serves all. As an integrative counsellor I always use the approach that adapts best to my client’s needs. These needs can sometimes change as the therapeutic work evolves. My values as a therapist always centre on the autonomy of the client.

If you have any comments or would like to know more about how counselling can help you to control your depression,  feel free to email me at:

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