Depression as a mental illness
According to the organisation Mind, the symptoms of depression are described as:
- continuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless
- low self-esteem
- feeling tearful
- feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- lacking motivation and interests
- difficulty making decisions
- anxiety worries
- having suicidal thoughts.
This list would differ from person to person. People who come to therapy with one or more of these symptoms do so with courage and trepidation. The hope is that they can be understood and made to feel better by the therapist. Prescription medication is known to help to suppress the problem but does not tackle the root cause. For some, sleeping pills and anxiety pills simply dampens the problem and are short term solutions. However depression is not so uncommon. It is a problem most people would have experienced at some point in their lives. There is an underlining fear of the unknown. Depression can be brought about due to problems such as failed relationships, bereavement, financial difficulties, a feeling of failure or a feeling of being stuck in life. These problems can be helped with therapy by a qualified and experienced therapist. Also in couple relationships a partner of a couple may suffer as a result of the partner’s depression.
My experience of working in a psychiatric ward and in private practice is that depression often occurs due to sense of feelings inadequate and lack of ability to change situation, thus a sense of feeling trapped. I find most problems are often not in isolation. Often someone who feels down and depressed may also struggle with making decisions, and may have anxiety and self-esteem issues.
How can therapy help?
Clients visit counsellors with the hope that they can help resolve difficult situations. A qualified therapist would be able to bring awareness to the client and help the client to feel supported. This would require work around past or current experiences. It is important for the therapist to help the client focus on their strengths, help to increase assertiveness and help clients change their negative patterns to more positive thought patterns, however the client also need to have a wish to want to change.
Crowe, Michael (2004), Couples and mental illness, in Sexual and Relationship Therapy, Vol. 19, No. 3. British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy.
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