Depression is a debilitating illness that can be life long or last a few weeks or months or come and go through the years. It can affect all ages, young and old and lead to a reduction in enjoyment of life's activities and engagement resulting in a lack of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Due to the nature of depressions ability to zap energy rendering those that suffer feeling very low and physically heavy, it is often very difficult to shake depression without professional help. Those experiencing depression often report feeling very isolated and lonely in the world finding everyday tasks and jobs difficult or impossible to do. Even the smallest of jobs can seem like a mammoth task, even reading a newspaper or book can seem quite daunting.
People report that depression is like looking at the world through rather dark and gloomy spectacles that seem to filter out any joy or pleasure or even the memory of what joy and pleasure used to feel like. Whilst feeling depressed it is often very difficult to work or engage with people or everyday activities due to feeling so useless and ineffective. Thoughts can often become distorted and change the way the individual perceives their reality, often leading to more isolation and depressed feelings. It isn't easy being depressed, particularly if you are surrounded by people who do not understand or who try to cheer you up. There is good news, however, as depression is an illness you can recover from it and return to a happy and satisfying life. It will take time and patience and understanding on the part of the sufferer and therapist and together a plan of action for recovery can be formulated.
CBT can be enormously helpful at helping people explore those factors that maintain the depressed feelings and how to come up with a plan that will help lift their mood. Often therapy is more behaviourally focussed, initially beginning with the introduction of a few small pleasurable activities that will lift the mood and begin to activate motivation for life.
The success of CBT therapy for depression is dependant on the individuals willingness to engage with tasks and activities in the early stages of therapy as this has been evidenced as being one of the factors that will provide relief from depressed feelings with the potential for fast improvement in mood and motivation. It may take some time to begin to feel better, particularly if the individual has been depressed for a long time.
General Anxiety (GAD)
Generalised Anxiety Disorder or GAD is one of the most common of problems and often goes unnoticed with people being labelled as worriers or fussers in life. It can be a very tiring condition to have as individuals report that their brains are continually ticking away trying to resolve each and every problem or issue in their lives and also the lives of others. Judgement becomes clouded and they need to seek out constant reassurance to help them problem solve, leaving them in a situation where they have so many 'what if's' and have ticked all the boxes, crossed all the t's and then become so flooded that they just can't decide what to do next.
CBT can help the individual understand the features of anxiety that relate to them and with a therapist find ways in which to break the cycle of worry. GAD is often described as being an intolerance to uncertainty which can set a chain of worry in motion as the individual attempts to find certainty or problem solve something that has no immediate solution. One of the most interesting facts about those with GAD is that they are often excellent problem solvers and either just don't know it or have forgotten how to utilise that useful and important skill.
Through CBT individuals can learn to become more tolerant of the unknown and that anxiety is a natural defence that cannot be eradicated. When anxiety is less feared, it become easier to manage and accepted as part of day to day life in the modern world.
Social Anxiety is also known as Social Phobia is more common than you may think and affects about 7% of the population at any one time. Those who experience social anxiety are often the master of disguise and have a variety of ways and means to cover up their fears which often related to a fear of embarrassment or being considered to be weird or different or being criticised or found out as a fraud. In summary it can be considered to be a fear of being judged or evaluated negatively by others.
Typically behaviours that an individual with social anxiety may adopt in order to appear less anxious, include, avoidance, staying on the periphery, avoiding eye contact, being quiet in groups, holding a drink or even pretending to be looking at something else. Paradoxically these behaviours are the things that actually feed into the anxious feelings and also can be seen as behaviours that may even make someone look a little strange. One of the biggest features of social anxiety tackled in CBT therapy is the internal focus of attention which is considered to be the cause and maintaining factor of intense anxious feelings.
If you are experiencing social anxiety remember that being in your head for long periods of time and avoiding situations and people can be the biggest maintaining factors that will keep your anxiety levels high. Attentional training (videos can be found on you tube) can be enormously helpful with maintaining an external focus of attention whilst endeavouring to face situations that are most feared. Through this you will learn that anxiety is nothing to be afraid of and that focussing on others and what they are saying is the beginning to recovering from this uncomfortable and awkward condition.
Health Anxiety was related to hypochondria in the past and can often be associated with people who worry needlessly about their health. This makes it a difficult illness to have as those around you often don't understand and the medical profession will often engage in tests and health screens to reassure the individual that there is nothing wrong with them. These behaviours often do little more than feed into the anxiety causing greater levels of distress to the individual.
Health Anxiety is most commonly experienced by those who have suffered with a very real illness and subsequently recovered. A CBT therapist will not argue or judge an individual about their health concerns. CBT therapy acknowledges the plight of the individual and the real worry and anxiety that they may truly have a nasty illness. Through therapy the individual can begin to see their problem from an alternative perspective which will help alleviate the worry and concern.
Panic Disorder often begins with one panic attack and leads to a fear of having another panic attack. The symptoms of panic are often similar to those perceived to be a heart attack, or going crazy, having a terrible illness, high blood pressure or fainting. Panic can be defined as the catastrophic misinterpretation of these symptoms and it is the fear and anxiety that develops through this process that keeps maintains the fear of panic.
CBT aims to educate the individual about panic and through a series of experiments and exercises demonstrate to the individual that there is nothing to fear. It is in fact all the things that the individual does in order to reduce or avoid anxiety or panic that feed into the anxious feelings undermining the individuals ability to cope with the situation.
If you are experiencing relationship problems or going through a tricky divorce it can be all consuming and very tiring indeed. Relationships are at the very core of our existence and without them life would be dull, uninteresting and lack positive reward and warmth.
By looking at the process of the way you relate to others within relationships can enable you to understand better how you respond to others and how you can make a few more changes to improve communication and understanding in others and yourself.
Counselling can support you through tricky times in life such as divorce or bereavement and help you feel emotionally strong enough to start to cope better with what is a really difficult situation.
Bereavement & Loss
Bereavement is a painful, but natural process, in response to loss. Counselling can support you at this difficult time.
Bereavement is the feeling of grief when we lose someone or something close to us. Death and loss are an inevitable part of life; shock, numbness, anger and sadness form part of the natural grievng process. However, if left unprocessed, such losses can leave us with emotional scars and long term difficulties including mental health issues.
What are the Stages of Bereavement, Grief and Loss?
The first usual response to a bereavement is one of Shock and Disbelief. Denial normally follows, as the bereaving find it difficult to accept the reality of the loss. It is normal to experience Anger and even Guilt. A period of Depression can follow which can include symptoms such as sleeplessness, irritability, loss of motivation, social withdrawal, changes in appetite and physical pains. At some stage the bereaved move to a position of Acceptance.
Issues for Grief/Loss Counselling
Death of a loved one
End of Relationship
Children Moving Away
If you are experiencing grief or loss (death of a loved one, divorce, redundancy, miscarriage/abortion, moving home, children leaving home or personal injury/illness), counselling can help you process it in a more healthy way. Bereavement counselling offers you a space to explore your feelings in confidential and safe space. Bereavement Counselling can help you through the grieving process - to process the painful emotions, to accept the loss, to make relevant adjustments and to help discover productive coping mechanisms. The bereavement process is usually a lengthy one, and counselling can support you during this difficult time on either a short or longer-term basis.