Depression is a common mental health issue which renders individuals with feelings of powerlessness, failure, sadness, emptiness, loneliness and anger. These feelings are prolonged over time and may seem interminable. Individual’s thoughts, physical health and sense of self are often affected.
Symptoms differ from individual to individual and may include: Anxiety, crying, worthlessness, apathy, thoughts of suicide and an inability to concentrate etc. It is likely daily stresses seem like too much to bare, and things may feel impossible. As if you want to break free, but the chains around you and within you feel so burdensome and change can be difficult, confusing and frightening. A change of pattern may help, a change of structure and of attitude, belief etc.
Depression is embodied in the body and mind; both are connected. A mindfulness approach may prove beneficial. Working with your awareness of your body, awareness of how you breathe and how you respond in any given moment to stress, underlying thoughts, emotions and sensations can be fruitful. Better breathing has been clinically proven to help change the ways our mind and bodies respond.
You may feel utterly alone, you may feel ashamed, angry and/or irritated.
- How does your body feel?
- Where in your body do those feelings reside?
- How are you breathing? Is it shallow and erratic, tight and chesty?
Beliefs and expectations
Beliefs and expectations may cause you to be afflicted by disparities between what we call your ‘actual self’ and your ‘self concept’. That is who you are and who you feel you should be. Exploring disparities and making tentative links to your ‘idealised self’ and your actual self may be beneficial. Structure and journaling may help, identifying patterns you keep and working towards breaking the cycle. The use of realistic small attainable goals may be useful.
Weighing up what you believe and how life events may have influenced such beliefs can aid in better awareness. Challenge your thinking, be critical of critical thinking. Is there evidence that supports what you believe and what evidence goes against what you believe? Listen to the things you say to yourself, the dialogue you keep. Where does this more ‘critical, punitive’ voice come from? How might you change that voice? Exploring this again may prove very beneficial.
Counselling provides a necessary, safe, confidential platform with a skilled listener. A reflective space, with respect, empathy, hope and challenge. You can look to change how you feel with practice and a commitment to yourself. You can find meaning and purpose, create better connections with yourself and others, increase your self-esteem and self-worth. An integrative approach as mentioned above may be useful in helping you look for solutions, strategies and ways forward whilst being supported in a collaborative and empathic way.
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About Justin Lee Slaughter
I am Justin. I have a varied range of experience, a background in counselling and psychotherapy, social science and in healthcare with a broad range of experience in both adult and adolescent mental health. I manage a successful and established private counselling practice as well as currently volunteering as part of a counselling team at THT.