How hypnotherapy can help you climb out of depression
“Everything can be taken away from man but one thing – to choose one’s own attitude in a given set of circumstances.”
So said Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz survivor and author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. But was he right? When it comes to depression it can feel at times as if we don’t have any choice at all. This is how depression tricks us though, leading us to believe that things will never be any different.
If you are currently feeling depressed, it would benefit you to know right now that nearly all episodes of depression lift naturally in about nine months, usually in as little as three and a half. There is light at the end of the tunnel and hypnotherapy, when used correctly, can help lift the feelings of depression even sooner than that.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is now the number one psychological disorder in the western world. Studies show that the rate of increase of depression has grown in all age groups, is growing fastest in young people and that as countries become westernised, rates of depression increase.* So even though we have a whole range of supposedly better drugs to treat depression, it is clear that something must be wrong; if the drugs worked we should surely expect these figures to be decreasing.
Let’s look at what depression actually is and this might go some way to explaining why the drugs don’t work for the majority of people who try them. Like any powerful emotion depression is best understood as a hypnotic state, a narrowed, distorted perception of reality. Depression leads us to believe that if one thing goes wrong then everything is wrong or will go wrong. If one aspect of your life is not going according to plan then your whole life is a disaster. If you make a mistake at something then you’re no good at anything. If you’ve had a ‘bad’ week (whatever that means) you feel as if it will always be this way. This black and white emotional thinking arises from the limbic system, often called the ‘emotional brain’. Our emotional responses are all connected in some way to our basic fight or flight survival instincts and because of this they easily override our rational, logical, thinking mind.
Powerful emotions like depression, anger and anxiety put us into a trance because they hijack the logical part of the brain, limiting our ability to perceive a situation clearly. Perhaps even more interesting is that the brain processes these emotions before conscious thinking. That’s why you can’t just change your thinking and expect to feel different with depression; you have to find a way to work with your emotions by first changing unconscious patterns. This is where hypnotherapy is proving to be very useful, as it deals directly with unconscious processes. When feelings change it is then much easier to change your thoughts.
What causes depression?
It needs to be clearly stated that depression is not a permanent condition nor is it a biological disease. No depression gene exists and the idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – so fervently promoted by doctors and pharmaceutical companies, mostly interested in profit margins – is simply wrong. The chemical imbalance is actually a consequence of being depressed, not the cause.
Conclusive evidence shows that the vast majority of depressions are learned, created by the way we make sense of or interpret what has happened or is currently happening in our lives. It is not the events themselves (relationship break-downs, business or financial ruin, illness, loss of loved ones etc.) that causes depression, but by how we respond to those events.
So if depression is not caused by genes, chemical imbalances or by difficult life circumstances, what does cause it? In a word, worrying is the main cause of depression. Prolonged and continual rumination along with high emotional arousal results in excessive REM (dream) sleep at night which exhausts the brain and this in turn, leads to lack of energy and motivation upon awakening. The lack of energy affects one’s ability to engage in normal activities (leading to social withdrawal and feelings of lack of competence and worthlessness) which then become other sources of worry, locking the sufferer into a ‘cycle’ of depression.
Treating depression with hypnotherapy
The good news is that when you stop worrying, you break the cycle of depression. This is what a hypnotherapist will help you to do. Less daytime emotional arousal and rumination equals better quality sleep at night. Once your emotions are calmed, you are more able to change old emotional response patterns because you can see things from a new perspective. With more energy and motivation you can soon re-engage with life, knowing that positive life experiences raise serotonin levels in the brain as effectively as medication and more instantaneously.*
Used in the right way, hypnotherapy can amplify your positive life experiences and de-amplify the negatives. You can access resources that often become buried under the weight of depression. You can re-engage in life and build expectations of an exciting, compelling future, filled with hope and optimism. Hypnotherapy will help to instill the confidence and belief needed to undertake new ventures and recognise opportunities when they arise. You will feel an improved self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Such positive changes will, undoubtedly, have a beneficial effect on your quality of sleep, helping you to awaken feeling refreshed each day, to a life full of meaning and purpose.
*References from "Human Givens, a new approach to mental health and clear thinking" by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell, Publisher: HG Publishing; 2nd Revised and enlarged edition (Mar 2013). ISBN-13: 1899398317
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About Gavin Roberts
Gavin Roberts has fifteen years experience as a hypnotherapist and has offices in Stowmarket and Colchester. He is passionate about helping people make positive changes and unlock their potential to perform better in all walks of life and rediscover a deeper meaning and purpose by helping them step into their truth. Become who you are!