Depression Counseling: The Ticket To Happiness
By Sarah Fader
Updated January 30, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
The English language sabotages people who have been diagnosed with Depression. In English, we use the same word -"depressed" - to describe a child who is sad to be cooped up indoors during a rainstorm as we do a person who has a diagnosable disorder caused by a biochemical imbalance. Diagnosable depression is not simply sadness; and contrary to popular opinion, it is not a choice. You can't simply snap out of it or shake it off. Depression counseling is vital to overcoming diagnosable depression because it provides you with game-changing coping strategies to manage the hurdles of life.
You may have found yourself using the word 'depressed' to mean sad in your life as most of us do, but if you're suffering from true depression you know that the 'depressed' state that you had before is nothing like what you're experiencing now. Unfortunately, there's a stigma and a level of embarrassment that often goes along with admitting you have depression and seeking help for it. There definitely shouldn't be. You have the right to feel happy in your own life and that means having the right to seek help for depression and not feel embarrassed about it.
Recognize Disordered Living And Reshape Your Life
The biochemical imbalances associated with depression do not usually pop up for no reason. They may be a result of a life imbalance, such as a long-term unhealthy relationship, lack of self-care, an unresolved childhood trauma, or chronic work stress. Of course, there are circumstances where you might not know what's causing your depression or where it came from. Even in these situations, there are things you can do to help resolve your depression. But you're not going to be able to do it alone.
Achieving life balance is key to overcoming depression. A mental health professional can help you figure out how to achieve life balance - whether that means cutting back on work, scheduling time for self-care, or meeting up with friends. Of course, this isn't going to be the only step in overcoming your depression. You're also going to have to work with a mental health professional about the feelings that you're having and the experiences that result from it. You may even need medications to help with your recovery, but it is an important step.
Calm The Nervous System
Depression often co-occurs with anxiety because both mental disorders are unhealthy physiological reactions to stress. Whereas anxiety is sensory overload, depression is numbness. To overcome these feelings, you must calm your overactive nervous system. Specifically, the autonomic nervous system, which oversees your stress response (sympathetic nervous system) and your relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system). When the stress response dominates, you wind up in a state of hyperarousal. Eventually, this hyperarousal can lead to anxiety and depression.
The vagus nerve wanders throughout the body, controlling various bodily processes and organ functions, including digestion. It activates the relaxation response. Even though it is a nerve, think of it as a muscle. When vagal tone is low, the vagus nerve does not function properly, and therefore the relaxation response rarely occurs. You can increase vagal tone with exercise (like yoga), meditation, and other self-care practices.
When we break this down into layman's terms, it means that you start to feel like everything is more intense. You may feel like you can't focus because you're overwhelmed by things that are happening around you or things that might happen. The intensity of these feelings starts to wear on you and you start to experience more and more hyperarousal or your body starts to shut down and block itself off from those emotions, resulting in the numbness associated with depression. In either of these situations, you start to feel like you're losing control and you may feel like there's nothing you can do about it.
Doing things to help take care of yourself is important and your mental health professional will help you come up with some ideas of what to do. You may have some ideas of what helps when you're stressed or when you're upset. Maybe you like to go to the movies or you have a friend you talk to or maybe you want to try something new like yoga or meditation. No matter what you're going to do, you want to make sure you talk with your mental health professional to get help on getting started.
Stop Negative Thoughts
Depression often accompanies negative thoughts, particularly negative self-talk. If you constantly badger and criticize yourself, there is no room for positivity. Learn to be your own best friend. When life beats you down, the least you can do is support yourself with positive self-talk and motivational thoughts. If a negative thought bounces around in your head, nonjudgmentally acknowledge it (don't freak out!), and gently replace it with a positive, encouraging thought. It's as simple as that!
Of course, simple is a subjective word and it may not be as simple for you to do as others might think. That's why having a mental health professional is so important. You need someone that you can talk to when things are getting too intense or when you don't know what to do about a situation. They can help you learn to turn your thoughts around and create the positive self-talk that can set you up for success yet again.
See The Bigger Picture
When you have depression, it may feel like the world is coming to an end. Especially in the face of a devastating event, like the death of a loved one, you might feel as if you can't move forward. But as much as you can, try to reframe your thoughts to encompass the bigger picture. Instead of dwelling on the pain of the present moment, remind yourself that the story is not over - you have hope and a future!
Once again, your mental health professional is going to be an instrumental part of this process, helping you to see what's important in your life and just how you can make the changes you need to in order to improve your life. You are an important part of this world and a huge part of the lives of so many people. You deserve to be happy and you deserve all the help possible to make sure you can feel happy. It's all about getting the help you need to make sure you're on the right path. With that help, you can overcome anything and you can definitely beat the depression that's been pulling you down.
Seek Depression Counseling
There are many well-trained, highly experienced online therapists who know how to effectively treat depression. A common approach is called cognitive-behavioral therapy, in which you begin to recognize and challenge negative patterns of thought in order to alter behavioral patterns and mood disorders. Don't let depression control your life any longer. Contact an online therapist today!