One in seven of us in New Zealand will suffer from depression at some point in our lives. Most often, if it is not treated, it will return. Depression is very serious in the way it affects the sufferer and their friends and family. The symptoms affect the way we think about ourselves, how we feel and how we behave.
There are different kinds and degrees of depression. All depression can be worked with and either cured or decreased and managed significantly. Where it is chronic, psychotherapy and/or medication will likely need to be long in duration. Depression is a serious illness with biological, psychological and social aspects that effect its cause and symptoms. These aspects are also involved in its treatment. For this reason it is important to get professional help so that it does not return or get worse.
These are the symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode (5 or more of these symptoms are required to form this diagnosis and symptoms usually last for over two weeks):
- depressed mood for most of the day (sad, empty), tearful (maybe irritable in young people)
- little interest or pleasure in life
- significant weight loss or gain
- difficulty in sleeping or difficulties in staying awake
- physically restless or physically under-active
- feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilty.
- difficulty in concentrating or indecisive
- recurring thoughts of death, or of suicide, or a suicide attempt
*(The above criteria have been taken from the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’, 4th Edition – published by the American Psychiatric Association 1999)
If a person has two of more Major Depressive Episodes we would call this Major Depression.
If a person suffers at least two of the above symptoms of a depressive episode (bar suicidal thoughts or attempts) for over two years, then it is likely they are suffering from Dysthymia. This is a less severe form of depression, but serious in the lack of pleasure it produces and the affect it has on the functioning of the individual in every day life.
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is another form of depression characterised by the cycling of severe highs (manic moods) and then severe lows (depression). These swings are exhausting for the person involved. The manic episodes often result in behaviour that the person later regrets and can put them and others at risk ie getting into fights due to grandiose behaviour; getting into debt due to gambling. The embarrassment and regret then feeds their depression. The mania and the depression both need to be treated.
Postnatal depression is another form of depression. One in five women in New Zealand will have depression in their life (compared to one in eight men), and about 15% of mothers experience postnatal depression. The symptoms are chronic (as above in those of a depressive episode) and more intense than ‘the baby blues’. Postnatal depression usually occurs within the first 6 months of birth although sometimes it can occur later. There are a variety of different reasons for this depression.
Treatment for Depression
Talking therapy is an effective treatment for depression. Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy integrates cognitive behavioural, psychodynamic and relational therapies, giving you, the client, tools to treat your depression from a variety of angles, with the support of a certified clinician.
Treatment areas that will be important in the therapy are :
- Reframing negative thinking
- Recognizing patterns that feed your depression
- Having insight into why you suffer from depression – psychologically and historically
- Knowing what triggers your depression, empowering you to avoid these
- Giving you an option, in addition to or other than, medication, which can have side effects and which does not go to the cause of the depression. Medication does not cause change, rather it can manage depression.
- Recognizing the importance of social support – the more good friends you have the more protected you are from depression. Psychotherapy is a place to reflect on the patterns of your relationships and improving their quality where needed.
- Setting healthy boundaries in relationships. Saying ‘No’ is important in avoiding the risk of depression. Stress, and anxiety are often experienced intensely by people who suffer from depression. Therapy can help you identify and validate the boundaries that are right for you.
In order to cure or alter the degree of your depression so that it is manageable does require commitment to the therapy process.
I have worked successfully with clients with depression. I am experienced and committed to facilitating change in this heartbreaking disease.