One in four of us will struggle with our mental health at some stage of our lives. Sometimes, it is reactive, a response to a difficult life event such as bereavement, divorce or redundancy. Sometimes it does not make sense, we may struggle to understand low mood and why it persists. In these situations, counselling can be helpful. If switching off is a problem for you, it can impact on your energy and perhaps your tolerance levels with family and work colleagues. Feelings of depression can be very isolating and we struggle to believe that change is possible.
Counselling aims to help you understand why and how depression may be occurring at this time. When we are depressed our thoughts and perceptions can become exceptionally negative, bleak and defeatist. This thinking, in turn, contributes to a lower mood and we get caught in a downward spiral. There may be core beliefs which frame our thinking such as I’m a worthless person or Nobody likes me. Depressed people also tend to ruminate, going over and over a problem, leading to paralysis by analysis.
Depressive episodes that are recurrent will take time and commitment to change. However, holding on to hope is very important. The use of cognitive therapy is well researched and will often be combined with medication. By learning strategies to counter the depressing thinking, cognitive therapy will help to prevent depression returning. A counselling process will support you to examine interpersonal relationships and identify ways in which established patterns of relations may be affecting how you feel about yourself.
One of the common features of depression is a vicious ‘inner critic’, that internal voice that tells you are hopeless or undeserving of support. Introducing a therapeutic space to reflect on how you talk to yourself and introducing some kindness and self-compassion can prove transformative over time. Building a process of change begins which small achievable steps which lead to a sense of achievement gradually, critical if we struggle with inertia or indecision.
Research indicates that those who live with a lifelong partner with depression are at risk of struggle themselves. If this is you, it is really important to seek support. If you want to learn more, I would recommend reading ‘Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong by Dr.Tim Cantopher. Appointments in Greystones and Arklow, Co. Wicklow.