“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” Elizabeth Wurtzel
Largely unheard of decades ago, depression is like the ‘common cold of mental disorders’ today and can affect anyone, and at any time. Commonly known as a mood disorder, depression is a complex illness. Surprisingly there is so much that is not yet known about depression, and no-one really knows for certain what can cause depression. This is purely as a result of so many variables, contributing factors, different symptoms because everyone’s experience is different and unique which makes depression a complex illness to deal with.
For some, minor depression is a normal part of our modern lifestyles, while for others major depression also known as ‘clinical depression’ can be a debilitating condition with devastating consequences. Although depression is a broad spectrum label given to low moods, mood swings, emotional, stressed and traumatised people, depression is actually curable.
What can cause depression?
Essentially depression varies so much from person to person, and can either develop gradually or quickly depending upon the events or circumstances a person may be faced with, and or triggered by. Since everyone’s response is unique, this makes depression difficult to diagnose, and even treat because of such a wide range of possible symptoms. Additionally, body chemistry is another factor that can trigger depression which is why a holistic approach is vitally important in treating depression (see ‘Tips’ below). Body chemistry is influenced by many external factors today because we are surrounded by and bombarded with heavy metals, radiation and toxic chemicals from environmental sources, in our food and drinking water, skincare ranges, household chemicals, cell phones, wifi etc … where and how does one even begin to unravel this puzzle in our modern day lifestyle? Some schools of thought believe amalgam fillings maybe a possible cause of depression because of the mercury leaking into the body.
Besides the above, there are so many possible causes of depression that it would be impossible to list everything but here are some typical or common issues people may be faced with: overwhelm, stress, trauma, unresolved relationship issues, grief and loss, illness and disease, fears and phobias, unfulfilled expectations, financial issues, disabilities, crime related incidents, unresolved emotional issues such as anger, resentment, lack of forgiveness, bitterness, envy, jealousy etc.
How or why does depression take hold?
Experts agree that depression is the body’s natural defense mechanism designed to deal with or escape from overwhelming and unbearable stress, in some cases as a result of an unresolved trauma. Bottled up or unresolved anger is well known to cause depression. In some circles depression is likened to anger turned inward as anger and depression are both intimately associated with emotional pain. As such, it can be difficult to determine where anger ends and depression begins. ‘It’s long been known that the psychic pain of depression feeds anger. But just as often, anger fuels depression.’ Nando Pelusi, Ph.D.
Unfortunately the problem arises when depression takes over becoming the focal point of your life, and you feel helpless to control it. Perhaps this feels like you’re ‘living’ in a deep black pit without any way of escaping, and there seems no point in even trying. You’ve given up all hope, including the desire for treatment or therapy as you’ve reached the stage of ‘why bother?’ This is precisely how insidious and debilitating the grip of depression can be, and it is imperative to seek intervention regardless.
In reality depression is a very broad and sensitive issue due to the myriad of influences and symptoms, making people feel misunderstood, and worse still, they are often misdiagnosed as a result. Sadly today the medical fraternity is too quick to dispense chemical prescription drugs, instead of spending quality time with patients to fully investigate the possible root cause/s of emotional pain, stress, trauma and depression. People aren’t born depressed; situations and circumstances trigger emotional turmoil, which left unresolved, can lead to depression.
Common emotions associated with depression:
Depression can be caused by or lead to a complexity of overwhelming emotions such as desperation, despair, frustration, anger, helplessness, hopelessness, grief and loss, sadness, stress, fears and phobias, a lack of confidence, poor self esteem, lack of self worth, judgement, criticism, feelings of insignificance, isolation and withdrawal from family, friends and society, and some report they can cry for no apparent reason. Without doubt, depression can be likened to an insidious cancer, deep rooted, and to the very core of one’s being.
Discover the possible root cause of your depression:
For many of my clients, the one common factor they share is that most don’t know what has caused or contributed towards their depression. All they know is that they are depressed, and feel awful as a result. Here is a simple line of questioning that has always provided vital keys to the possible root cause of depression:
1. Simply ask yourself how long you’ve been depressed? Be very specific, and put a time frame to your answer i.e. 6 months, 1 year or 5 years? Perhaps your depression took hold 10 or 15 years ago. Be completely honest, and don’t judge your answer. You’re simply asking yourself how long you’ve been depressed.
2. Now ask yourself, what significant event or events took place at that time, or at least 6 months to a year prior to the answer to question 1 above? Write down the event, or multiple events, that occurred around that time. The answers can provide vital clues, and help you to identify the possible cause of your depression.
3. With these answers you may be surprised by the insights, fresh perspective, awareness and understanding gained by knowing the possible root cause/s of your depression. Consider reading through my article on the Stages of Loss, also known as the ‘Grief Cycle’ as this may shed further light on your understanding of depression.
4. What to do with the knowledge gained from the above exercise? There are several things you can now do as a result of uncovering your depression. Firstly, acknowledge yourself for having carried the depression, and any associated emotional or mental pain for all this time.
Secondly, let go of any judgement or criticism yourself, you’re human being and depression isn’t a weakness but the body’s natural way of coping with difficulties so thank yourself and your body for taking such good care of your well being. Be grateful, and show appreciation towards yourself. We’re so incredibly hard on ourselves!
Thirdly, can you find a way to resolve the issues that instigated your depression in the first place – I can recommend Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) also known as ‘tapping’ or you can use a Free Tool which is available right here. A fourth way would be to implement some of the recommended tips below.
Tips to take immediate control of your depression, and get your mojo back:
Regardless of whether or not your depression is mild or chronic, here are some simple, effective and essential daily habits to cultivate, which can help you feel lighter and in control again. Collectively applying these tips can go a long way to combating depression holistically:
1. Eat a healthy diet of fresh, colourful and seasonal fruit and vegetables. A healthy variety of minerals and vitamins can combat depression.
2. Drinking lots of pure, still water (not coffee, tea, sodas, carbonated water, fizzy drinks, fruit juice etc) maintains healthy hydration levels. Refer http://www.watercure.com
3. Every night ensure you get quality sleep of at least 8 hours. Sleeping in a pitch dark room is essential for a good night sleep as this stimulates the neurotransmitter serotonin, and the healthy production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for sleeping well. Both serotonin and melatonin play important roles in our physical and mental well-being. Switching the lights on at night, watching TV, playing games etc inhibits the production of melatonin, which directly impacts on our ability to sleep well. Watching TV directly before going to sleep is not conducive to getting a restful night’s sleep as the TV stimulates the brain’s activity, which is counterproductive. Check you’re not suffering from Sleep Apnea.
4. Start with basic low impact exercises like walking for 20-30 minutes, yoga, swimming, pilates etc. Gentle but steady exercise is good for stimulating the blood flow and increasing endorphins (happy hormones) flowing through the body.
5. Have a daily and healthy doses of laughter every day. Watch comedy clips or movies that make you laugh out aloud for several minutes. Laughter also increases endorphins.
6. Receive and give frequent hugs each and every day. Hugging, like laughter and exercise increases endorphins.
7. Spend at least 10 minutes in the sun every day so you stimulate your body’s vitamin D production. This will also have a positive effect on your emotions and physical well being.
I trust this information has been useful. One of the difficulties depressed people have is reaching out and asking for help – trust me, I know this first hand, I’ve been there! So, if you need someone to talk to, let’s connect and have a chat! I’d love to support you.
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“Wow Bridget! After seeing you, my depression is NO more. Off all my meds. Hubby is happy, and kids don’t get me down anymore – I can cope now. I feel happy and alive again. You’re a miracle worker or angel truly! Can’t thank you enough.” Lerato, Pretoria (One session only)
“Bridget, I would like to thank you for the amazing work you are doing. I came to see you once (depression and ‘cutting’ myself), and now I feel like a new person. I feel positive about life again. I am telling everybody about you. You sat down with me, and went through everything with me. Thank you.” Lee, Western Cape (One session only)
“I have suffered from depression and been on medication for many years (since about 1990). I have always wanted to get off the medication because of the many side effects. This seemed impossible until I met Bridget and learnt about EFT. One session gave me the tools to work with EFT and enabled me to get through difficult times. I am now no longer on medication! I use EFT when troubled and find that within a few minutes I am once again able to cope. And it really works!!!! My thanks to you.” Joan, Johannesburg (One session only)