Coping With Depression

The effects of depression

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Depression as a cause of further stress

Besides being caused by stress, depression may act as a source of further stress and so can produce tension, anxiety, irritability, guilt and psychosomatic illness. Sometimes these problems actually mask the depression itself. In such circumstances, a useful guide to depression is predominant feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, a poor self-esteem and a lack of confidence.

Depression and the people around you

Most depressed men and women will have heard things like this:

  • 'Pull yourself together.'

  • 'What's wrong with you?'

  • 'Why are you looking like that?'

  • 'You owe it to us to be cheerful.'

  • 'You've got nothing to be depressed about.'

  • 'You must fight this, and not give in to it.

Such remarks are hurtful. They may even deepen a depression because the sufferer's sense of injustice is increased or because he feels even more guilty about 'letting people down'. However, these remarks are usually made out of a sense of -helplessness and ignorance because family and friends don't know what they can do to help a depressed person.

DEFEATING DEPRESSION

Sometimes depression can be a psychological "game". Such "manipulative" depression is a subconscious behavior pattern to elicit a particular attitude or response from another person. However, this does not mean a person is deliberately choosing to be depressed. Most often, games occur because a person learnt during childhood that they could get attention or sympathy or some other desirable outcome from his or her parents. Later in life, that person may still display the same pattern of behavior. Such a learning process is subconsciously determined, so the person concerned probably does not even realize what he or she is doing. For example, a girl who watches her mother successfully and continually manipulating her father by means of 'moods', 'depressions', and so on, might have a similar pattern of behavior later in life.

Consider a girl whose boyfriend ends their relationship. She may 'replay' childhood patterns of behavior as depression or sulking. The sympathy she receives is actually a 'reward' for the depression. For example, one old woman used depressive behavior to manipulate the behavior of her adult son and daughter, who were still living with her. Whenever anything threatened the stability of this situation, the old woman showed unexplained and mysterious signs of illness: her doctor persuaded the daughter to take a holiday - her first for many years. Half-way through, the old woman fell 'ill' and instructed her son to have the police bring the daughter home. This went on for some years until she died. In many such cases, this behavior is depressive and begins when the husband dies, leaving a dreadful gap in the widow's life. The ill-health becomes a strategy for gaining attention.

Treatment of a games and the resulting depression like this is not easy. First of all, there's a need to understand the self-destructive, subconscious programming that makes the person behave as he or she does. One woman in a treatment group was asked under hypnosis: 'How much do you need your illness to obtain your husband's sympathy?' Without thinking, she replied: 'About 90 per cent.' Later she phoned to deny it. 'I don't know why I said it,' she told her therapist; 'it isn't true.'

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT STRESS-INDUCED DEPRESSION

Besides actually treating your depression with one or other of the self-hypnosis techniques, you should try to lessen the stress which caused it in the first place. You can do this through a process of changing your beliefs and attitudes combined with self-hypnosis. If you have been depressed for a long time, and you feel things are not getting better, it can be helpful to see a qualified counsellor.

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