If you are depressed!

In 2013 I carried out a small research on the treatment of depression with hypnotherapy, called: “How hypnotherapy can be used in the treatment of depression or depressive complaints. Searching for therapists and clients’ experiences.”. Some of the clients had already received an official diagnosis of depression from a psychiatrist and were taking prescribed antidepressants, while others were suffering with depressive symptoms but had not, as yet, gone to a psychiatrist or officially been diagnosed. The need to research this subject and analyse it with colleagues, came about because I was perplexed with the diversity of my clients’ experiences of depression. Some people were almost constantly angry and hopeless, while others felt meaningless and void of feelings. Some people appeared to be always happy and cheerful and others were overwhelmed with fear and experienced panic attacks.

So, how can hypnotherapy help? The causes of depression, such as a negative self-image, can be found in previous experiences of trauma or loss that have not yet been processed. Emotions such as helplessness and feeling like a victim of circumstances are seen in hypnotherapy as signs of a regressive state connected to unprocessed experiences of the past. Symptoms of depression belonging to one of the parents can also be internalised. These are called “introjections”. A good example of these are depressive symptoms of people whose parents were imprisoned in Nazi or Japanese concentration camps or people with parents who have suffered mental illness.

Depression can be seen as a symptom of something else. Depression can also be a phase in another mental illness like psychosis, personality disorder, addiction, complex grieving process, and trauma. Therefore it does not have much sense to fight the symptoms without looking at the whole. Sometimes doctors prescribe antidepressants too easily, also for problems that need another solutions Some years ago a friend of mine went to the doctor because of her backache and came back with a prescription for antidepressants that she never took. Some people are satisfied with the quick-fix solution offered through a pill, while others are looking for a more in-depth reflection that a therapeutic process can offer. An examination of the causes at the root of the problem can have a strong healing effect by helping the client reconnect to suppressed emotions. This is a liberating process that leads to huge positive changes.

I am one of a growing number of professionals with this vision of treating depression. Earlier this year Johann Hari’s book, “Lost connections. Uncovering the real causes of depression and unexpected solutions”, was published in which depression is also described as a logical symptom. Johann interviewed different doctors and researchers and found out that depression and anxiety are seen as two symptoms of the same problem. He discovered how the dopamine and serotonin imbalance is a truth based on a supposition that has never been proven right despite all the research that has been carried out. “Saying that our depression is caused by a malfunctioning brain makes us disconnect from ourselves and therefore from others” (p.42) A lack of connection in oneself, other people, and other important factors in life are a cause of loneliness and helplessness. These states of mind are similar to the “acquired helplessness” idea of Martin Seligman (American psychologist) and moments of daily regression that are analysed in therapy. Hopefully there can be more understanding for this state of mind so that it is no longer seen as just a bad situation that needs to be suppressed with medication. We need to move away from reducing the symptoms of depression with medication towards analysing and healing the causes. This is also the point of view of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21480&LangID=)