Depression

We all feel low from time to time. Often this will quickly ease and we’ll go back to feeling like our usual selves. For some people, however, this low mood persists and affects everyday life.

Depression is a mental health condition that causes you to feel low for a prolonged period of time. You may struggle to carry out day-to-day activities and lose interest in activities that you used to find enjoyable.

Depression is common. According to the Mental Health Foundation, it’s the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Thankfully, though, there are many treatment options available. Here we’ll look at how depression can affect us and how hypnotherapy for depression can help.

What is depression?

Depression is when you have a low mood for a long time, making it difficult for you to carry out your usual everyday activities. The condition can affect you in different ways and may be mild, severe or somewhere in-between. The level of severity will depend on how much depression is interfering with your life. 

There are also different forms of depression. These include:

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - This is when depression affects you at certain times of the year.
  • Dysthymia - This is when you have mild depression continuously for over two years and may also be called chronic depression or persistent depressive disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder - This is when you experience extreme lows and extreme highs (known as manic episodes).
  • Prenatal depression - This is when depression happens during pregnancy.
  • Postnatal depression (PND) - This is when depression happens after having a baby. It usually affects the mother, but fathers can experience it too. 

Signs of depression

There are a number of different symptoms and signs of depression. You may not have all of them, but it’s important to go to the doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms for most of the day, for over two weeks. The signs of depression to be aware of are:

  • a low mood, feeling sad and/or angry
  • lacking in energy
  • losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling tired more easily
  • low self-confidence
  • different sleeping habits (difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual)
  • different eating habits (eating more or less than usual)
  • feeling guilty or that you are worthless

You may find you’re easily irritated or have a sense of being numb to everything. You may lose interest in sex and have thoughts of self-harm or even suicide. Talking to someone about how you feel is the first step and the best way to start to feel better. 

In the following video from BBC Three, a young man explains how depression showed up for him.

Why am I depressed?

The causes of depression will differ from person to person. Often the reasons are complex and there may be multiple factors at play. Some of the most common causes however include:

Childhood experiences

Certain experiences in your childhood can make you more vulnerable to depression as an adult. You may have experienced trauma, abuse, bereavement or even had an unstable family environment. All of these situations can affect your mental health and make it more likely for you to experience depression. 

Life events

In some cases, depression can be triggered by a particular event. You may have ended a relationship, lost someone close to you or lost your job. Major life changes like moving, getting married and changing jobs can lead to depression, too.

Mental or physical health problems

Sometimes other mental health conditions can cause depression. Anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some of the most commonly linked conditions. If you struggle with your physical health or if you have chronic pain, you may also find this affects your mood and triggers depression. 

Genetic factors

Research has found that if a member of your family has depression, you are more likely to develop the condition yourself. This could be linked to genetic and biological factors, or it may be down to learnt behaviours. 

Substance abuse

Drinking or taking drugs may feel like a good way to feel better, but they can often make your mental health worse. See our page on addiction to learn more. 

Lifestyle

Certain lifestyle changes can affect your mood, including how much you sleep, what you eat and how much physical activity you get. While these factors alone won’t cause depression, they can make you more likely to develop it.  

Other causes

Some medication side-effects include depression and some physical health problems (such as hormone issues) can cause depression. Always be sure to visit your doctor to get a diagnosis and to check for underlying causes.

Woman with depression lying on sofa

Depression treatment 

Depending on how severe your depression is and your personal circumstances, your doctor may suggest different treatment options. There are many routes available and it’s important to know that help is available. If one approach doesn’t feel helpful, explore another. 

Here are some of the options your doctor may recommend:

A self-help programme

If your depression is mild and it’s the first time you’re experiencing it, your doctor may suggest a self-help resource. This may include working through a self-help resource with the support of a professional, a computer-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programme or a physical activity programme.  

Talking therapies

There are several talking therapies that can help with depression. These are therapies where you talk with a mental health professional to gain a better understanding of your depression and find ways of coping. The different therapies you may be recommended include CBT, interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy or behavioural activation.

Medication

In some cases, you may be recommended to try medication for depression. Often this is advised in conjunction with talking therapies. There are different medications available to help with depression, so don’t feel disheartened if you find one type doesn’t help - you may need to try different types before finding what works best for you. 

Hypnotherapy for depression

Another treatment option to manage and overcome depression is hypnotherapy. This approach works on a subconscious level, using techniques to identify and address the root causes while offering positive suggestions to break negative thinking patterns. 

Rather than treat the symptoms of depression, hypnotherapy aims to tackle what triggers lead to your depression so you can unpick it and move on.

Hypnotherapy works for depression because it targets the underlying basis of depression, and completes the “unfinished business” that otherwise continues to recycle as self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours. With hypnotherapy, the person can go down deeper to their traumatic experiences, memories and stored emotions, which means they can quickly release them from the mind and body.

- Read more of ‘Discover how hypnotherapy can help anxiety and depression’ by hypnotherapist John Gotelee.

When the root cause of your depression has been addressed, suggestion techniques can be used to encourage a more positive mindset. These suggestions can help with low energy, sleeping difficulties and help you feel more like your usual self.

Sometimes, hypnotherapists will use hypnotherapy in tandem with psychotherapy. This will depend on their training. If you are having psychotherapy from a counsellor, be sure to let them know if you’re considering hypnotherapy too. Some therapists don’t like to use more than one approach at one time, while others believe hypnotherapy can complement other approaches. 

What’s important is for you to find an approach that works for you. Remember that everyone is different and it’s OK if what works for one person doesn’t work for you. There are lots of approaches to try and many people recover from depression and manage their mental health using the treatments discussed here. 

Smiling woman

I went to a hypnotherapist who took me through analysis and from there, literally turned my life around. I was full of joy and hope for the future and I so wanted to pay it forward that I studied and trained to become a hypnotherapist myself.

- Read Kathleen’s experience of hypnotherapy for depression.

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