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Depression - Taming the Black Dog

As a counsellor I regularly encounter those who are either suffering from the effects of depression themselves, or who are living with someone who is. On a personal level, it ruled my own life for a number of years, although few who knew me at the time would have been aware of it because like many, I was very good at hiding it. I am also deeply aware of the pain of some who may be reading this, who have lost someone who was not able to overcome the debilitating effects of depression.
 
The series of television advertisements featuring high profile New Zealanders who struggle with mental illness along with the production of various documentaries shows that The Back Dog of Depression is finally coming out of the shadows.
Like many conditions that affect us as humans, the causes of depression can range from the very simple mineral deficiency which can be treated quickly and effectively to the very complex interactions of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual factors requiring specialist long- term treatment.

At the risk of oversimplifying what can be a complex issue, there are a few principles that if understood could result in many people not having to be ruled by the Black Dog.
Some forms of depression are bio-chemical – a result of physiological conditions which need to be treated medically. Have you been to the doctor for a health check-up and blood tests? Is it a side effect of drugs being taken for other medical conditions, hormone imbalances?

There are some life stages during which depression commonly occurs. It is not unusual for women to experience depression post-natal, when children are leaving home and again during menopause. Be aware that for many, the emotional signs of the onset of menopause begin well ahead of any physical signs. For men, it is well documented that mid-life crisis commonly involves periods of depression before new directions emerge even if they have never experienced depression earlier in life. Partners, both male and female, who do not understand that depression is a common part of these life changes, can make the problem worse rather than better by saying "just pull yourself together and get a grip."

Much more common is that the depression is a symptom of some other problem. Just as pain is a warning signal that something is not right in the physical realm and anger can be a warning signal of an injustice, so depression can be a warning signal that something somewhere is not right and needs attention. What is your body trying to tell you?
It may be a warning of impending burnout. Are you getting enough rest and recreation? If you are tired enough for long enough then you will get depressed. It is not rocket science to figure out that if you continually abuse your body for long enough then it will break down. Are you getting enough exercise, sleep and eating wisely?
 
 Once depression has got established in someone, they often do not have the energy to address these issues and it becomes self perpetuating. The longer it is ignored then the more difficult it is to treat. Is something preventing you from being able to balance your own mental, emotional or physical needs with the needs of others? Are you not worth taking care of? Are you punishing yourself for not being good enough or trying to make up for some mistake in the past? For some who are unable to say "no" to others and take care of themselves, depression is their only way of shutting everyone else out. If you don't take care of yourself, then eventually you won't be able to take care of those who need you.

The good news is that recovery and management of depression is possible in most cases. There is now much more understanding amongst the health professions about its causes and treatments. There are effective natural remedies to help with the symptoms along with more advanced drugs with fewer side effects. Competent counsellors can help untangle the emotional factors that cause or contribute to the problem.
Why endure life when you could be enjoying it?

 

 

 

 
Frogs have it easy
- they eat what
bugs them
Kiwisense Ltd | P 07 888 2722 | M 021 712 115 | E info@kiwisense.co.nz
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