I have to be careful when I mention the words, ‘curing depression.’ We in the therapy field are not supposed to use the word cure, even if that’s one of the main reasons people seek therapy.
Instead of ‘curing depression’ maybe I should use alternative words, like ‘managing depression’ or ‘healing depression’? Or what about ‘treating depression’ or ‘climbing out of depression’?
Whatever, I know for certain that hypnotherapy ‘cured’ me of my ten-year problem (which I talk about quite frankly in my free ebook). The symptoms never came back.
That was nearly twenty years ago. I think that qualifies as a cure.
This article is going to look at the real causes of depression and what I think can bring about an alleviation of symptoms or a complete ‘cure’.
Depression defined as a deep trance state
So, let’s start by looking at something that most health professionals aren’t even aware of…
When you come to understand that depression is a deep trance state, the focus should be on changing the way you do that trance, not in tackling the depression head on.
Feeling depressed is usually a consequence of a) unmet emotional needs and b) how you’re using or, more likely, misusing your resources.
For instance, whenever we misuse the imagination by worrying or endlessly ruminating on things our mood will drop. If you do this for days or weeks on end, the worry will become the state of depression.
You become locked into a cycle of emotional arousal and negative thinking which leads to more heightened emotionality.
Let’s be clear about something here…
Even though someone suffering from depression might appear ‘flat’ and inactive, their stress hormones (cortisol) will most probably be through the roof. Depression is a stressful, emotional state which influences thoughts.
So, there’s more than just negative thinking going on…
Curing depression is about changing the way you do the trance
As I point out in my article about the fatal flaw in CBT, we can’t feel better just by changing our thinking.
If you want to climb out of depression or cure it completely you’ve got to work hypnotically because depression is a hypnotic state.
As a hypnotherapist I’ve come to realise that ‘therapising’ people once a week is only part of the recovery process.
When you are taught to use mental skills better, depression can become a thing of the past and, if it does recur, you’ll be able to nip it in the bud before it takes hold.
This is why part of the work I do is psycho-educational or what I prefer to call Mind-Coaching, teaching you the type of mental skills we should have been taught in school years ago!
Understanding the real causes of depression
Now, when I say ‘understanding the real causes’ I’m not talking about spending weeks in therapy exploring your past and the why’s and wherefore’s of what might be causing the depression.
Wallowing in your past is one of the worst things any therapist could do when treating someone who is feeling depressed.
This is because if you’re already feeling low, the mind will tend to look for supporting evidence, conjuring up all manner of woes from your history!
The emotional trance of depression will distort how you see reality. Don’t let this trance state dictate your behaviour!
If you’re feeling on the edge right now – even suicidal – understand that you are in a trance and that your thoughts and emotions are currently governed by the trance.
It is not the Real You feeling, thinking, and acting like this – it is the trance that you’re in.
My job, whether through one-to-one therapy or through the selection of hypnosis downloads specifically targeted to treat depression – is to help you break free from that trance.
So, before you take the first step to climb out of this trance, let’s take a moment to understand what might be happening psychologically…
Curing depression means working holistically
What I’m suggesting is that in order to successfully treat depression we need to look holistically at what might be going on in your life and how you’re responding to whatever that is…
See, for years, mental health professionals have researched the causes of depression and its effects on people’s health.
This question arose…
Why did some people have the ability to bounce back from life’s problems, while others spent weeks or months hidden under the covers, unable to work, eat, or talk to anyone?
If everybody faces hard times, why isn’t everyone depressed?
So, the ‘experts’ began looking at depression from all angles, asking…
Is depression biological?
Well, this is what we now know…
Genes and biochemistry play only a minor role in the onset of depression.
However, most doctors (and pharmaceutical companies, obviously) still overestimate the biological factors when the evidence is stronger that depression has its origins in the way you respond to life experiences.
The fact is that no depression gene exists. And the idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain is simply wrong. The chemical imbalance is a consequence of depression, not the cause of it.
So, if depression isn’t purely biological is it all to do with the mind? In other words…
Is depression psychological?
Sometimes a painful life event can trigger a depressive episode. The loss of a loved one, the break down in a relationship, financial problems, for example, can contribute to a feeling of hopelessness, despair, or guilt.
Depression is most frequently a product of how one interprets life events as opposed to the events themselves.
There are people all over the world right now going through the very same things as you but who are not becoming depressed. Why is that? What are they doing differently?
This question fascinates me as a therapist. How are you different? How are you using your mind differently? Is depression purely mental?
I’d say not 100%, but psychology certainly plays a huge part.
But then there’s something else to consider…
Is depression sociological?
Depression is now ten times more common in people born after 1945 than it was before. This is the evidence that proves depression is not genetic. Human genes simply don’t change that quickly.
In this age of technology and social media, with the pace of life speeding up and the dissolution of real friendships – driven by a consumer, ego-based society – we are all susceptible to feeling depressed.
Coronavirus has only exacerbated the problem.
Evidence strongly supports the fact that the rapid changes in Western society – over the last 40 years or so – directly affect people’s abilities to cope with the stresses of everyday life.
The more Westernised the world, the more stressed and depressed we are, according to the World Health Organisation. (1)
So, we could say that depression is all of these things: there are biological, as well as psychological and sociological factors.
And let’s not forget spiritual factors too…
Depression as a loss of meaning and connection
One of the things I point out in Being Fully Human is that we have both emotional and spiritual needs.
The secular societies we live in today leave us with a feeling of disconnection to and loss of faith in something greater than ourselves. We become self-obsessed, one of the worst things for depression.
Meeting spiritual needs, either rediscovering your faith, finding a meaning or purpose to your life, or doing something that reconnects you to nature or other people can help you out of your mind, and all the negative ruminations that go with it.
Indeed, in Eckhart Tolle’s best selling book, The Power of Now, he talks of his suicidal depression before he had a ‘spiritual awakening’, a moment that shifted his consciousness away from the feelings of despair.
It seems that having some kind of ‘jolt’ like this can shift one’s ‘centre of gravity’ away from emotional conditions such as depression and into a larger frame of reference.
I say more about this type of awakening here where I talk about my spiritual experience of Oneness.
The link between dreams and depression
So, when it comes to your getting better and climbing up and out of depression, we need to address biology, psychology, sociology, and spirituality.
But there’s one more thing we need to look at that can help us get to the bottom of the causes of depression. And it involves something we all do every night…
If you’re currently feeling depressed you will, most likely, have developed a habit of worrying about things. These ruminations are emotionally arousing and tend to have a negative bias. That is, if you’re feeling anxious or stressed your thinking will tend to be distorted in a negative way.
The problem with this sort of emotional arousal is that it doesn’t do anything or go anywhere. Nothing gets resolved by it. This results in an uncompleted ‘loop’ in the brain’s emotional system.
Normally, the emotion would be worked through by some action being taken in your waking hours. For example, if you get annoyed with somebody at work and you deal with it there and then the ‘loop’ is completed and, in effect, switched off.
But if you don’t resolve this type of emotional arousal and subsequent introspection during the day, you take these incomplete ‘loops’ with you to bed.
So, what happens when the loop doesn’t complete?
When these emotionally arousing triggers remain unresolved by the time you go to sleep, the dreaming brain gets involved. It creates scenarios – in the form of dreams – that complete the loops. This is what dreaming is for.
The dream acts out, in metaphor, a situation that will allow the emotional loop to be completed and therefore ‘flushed’ from the brain.
But the thing is this…
With depression, because there are extended periods throughout the day of emotional arousal, worry and rumination, the brain has to increase the amount of dreaming you do in order to complete the loops while you sleep.
This creates two problems…
- Spending too much time in REM (dream) sleep is exhausting for the brain. (It means you miss out on slow-wave sleep, which is physically rejuvenating)
- Depleting your hormonal system with extended night-time emotional arousal (stressful waking hours are likely to produce stressful dreams)
Simply stated, emotional arousal (usually because of unmet emotional needs) or unresolved trauma causes depressive thinking styles which tend to cause more emotional arousal and therefore more night-time dreaming. It becomes a vicious cycle.
This extra dreaming is to try to ‘free the brain’ for the next day, but because the negative arousals are excessive when depressed, the natural rhythms find it hard to cope because dreaming is hard work. It is not a restful activity for your brain.
Indeed, as far as your brain is concerned, dreams are real, resulting in the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones. And the more time you are in REM sleep the less time you get to recuperate in slow-wave sleep.
And if most of your sleep consists of long periods of REM, your body and mind will often awaken feeling very tired the next morning.
Or, it might be the case that you wake early and are not able to get back to sleep. This is very likely caused by your brain trying to protect itself from over-dreaming and the resultant exhaustion.
In effect, the brain says, “I’m getting worn out with all this dreaming so wake up this minute…wake up!”
Breaking the cycle of depression
In summary, what I’m saying is that depression has to be treated holistically if we can ever rightly use the term ‘cure’. We have to address your physical, mental/emotional, social, and spiritual health.
The most important thing to remember is that the trance of depression is manageable and recovery is highly likely if approached sensibly and skilfully by addressing all aspects.
The key thing is that once your daytime introspections lessen – and I’ll teach you how to do this – you will once again be able to sleep much better because there will be less dreaming needed to turn off the emotional loops.
Less daytime worry = less REM sleep = less depression. The trance starts to lift, like a witches spell that’s been broken.
The best thing you can do if you’re feeling depressed right now is to…
a) recognize you’re in trance
b) understand you are not the trance (there’s more to you than that)
c) commit to working with your own body-mind-soul system in a different way if you want to escape its hold on you.
This is what I’m here to help you with.
See, I went through a brief episode of depression once but I hated the effects of Prozac (this was back in the mid 1990s) and decided to ‘cure’ myself. There’s that word again!
I made efforts to change the way I did the ‘depression trance’. I guess it became one of the things that steered me into studying hypnotherapy.
Or if you can’t get to me in person I do online therapy sessions.
Also, take a moment to check out The Natural Depression Treatment Program online, which I thoroughly recommend.
If you have any questions about this article or depression in general contact me here.
- The global burden of disease (1997) The World Health Organisation