People commonly describe depression in a number of ways: as a black cloud that accompanies them everywhere; a fog from which it’s impossible to see out; like being stuck within a cave or cage. What’s common to all of these descriptions is the conviction or fear that they cannot escape. And, because human brains are programmed to fulfil expectations, many people do indeed remain trapped by depression for many weeks, months, or even years.
And yet it is possible to free yourself from depression quite quickly by following a few simple steps.
The first and most important step is to nurture hope, and form the expectation that it will happen. Finding stories of others who have had an experience similar to yours, but found their way out of the tunnel quickly, can provide inspiration. My clients typically have four to six sessions to get the better of depression.
Secondly, learning to relax is fundamental. Although people often feel listless and unmotivated when depression has got hold of them, their minds are working overtime, playing out anxious thoughts. There are many relaxation techniques available from guided visualisation to yoga, or meditation. If none of these work for you, a counsellor experienced in working with anxiety and depression will be able to help.
At this stage, it may also be helpful to resolve any trauma you may feel around a previous period of depression. One session of therapy will, more often than not, be sufficient for this.
Thirdly, working to get all your emotional needs* (not wants or desires) met is key. Once our emotional needs are met, it just isn’t possible to be depressed.
* Emotional needs:
Feeling safe and secure
Intimacy (not necessarily sexual, but a relationship with at least one other person in which you can just be yourself)
Giving and receiving attention
Sense of meaning and purpose
Sense of challenge
Sense of achievement