Coping with depression

January can be a difficult month for some people. The excitement (or stress) of Christmas is over, and there still seems to be a LOT of winter left before we see signs of the spring again. It can be all too easy to fall into a slightly lethargic, melancholic or depressed state. 

Depression is a natural response that we may feel during or after times of stress. It is often characterised by feelings of tiredness, lethargy, lack of motivation, sadness or tearfulness, lack of interest in life in general, not wanting to see people or interact, lack of appetite, or comfort eating, and so on. Sometimes depression is also often experienced alongside anxiety, anger and panic attacks.

In our primitive past, feelings that we now refer to as ‘depression’ would have enabled us to stay safe from potential danger. If we were forced into our cave because of very bad weather, or wild animals nearby, we would have been able to wait and probably sleep until the danger had passed and it was safe to go out and engage once again in life. During this time, we would not have felt like doing much, or interacting, and rightly so. This would have kept us safe until the danger had passed.

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Today we still feel those urges sometimes when life has become too stressful. We might feel like curling up under the duvet, not going to work, or seeing people, and spending lots of time sleeping. We don’t feel like engaging, or getting things done, so we may become isolated, and day to day jobs pile up around us. We may lose interest in personal hygiene, eating, and looking after ourselves.

However, in modern life we are rarely hiding from wild animals or storms. It is more likely to to be work stress, relationship issues, overdue bills, and so on, none of which may pose any physical danger, but nevertheless are treated in this way by the primitive brain if our general stress/anxiety levels have become too high.

Another interesting factor of depression is the effect is has on our serotonin levels. Serotonin is one of our positive neurotransmitters that helps us to feel happy, coping, motivated and brave. With depression, our serotonin levels drop dramatically. This is because we produce serotonin by doing positive things, including activity, interaction and positive thought. We do less of these things when depressed, and so feel less happy, able to cope, optimistic, etc. This can create a negative downward spiral of low mood, lethargy, and lack of motivation,  which can be difficult to break out of on our own.

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There are things you can do to help raise your spirits, especially at this time of year. Try to create and maintain some positive activity in your daily life. This doesn’t have to be running marathons, but gentle and enjoyable exercise or activity certainly help create positive chemicals like serotonin, and raise our mood considerably. 

Also, try to interact with people in a positive way. Again, this may simply mean saying hello to a neighbour, or a brief chat with someone in a shop. But also engaging with positive people in your life whose company you enjoy. This will also create serotonin and help you feel better. 

Finally, make a concerted effort to focus your mind on more helpful (positive) thoughts, rather than dwelling on problems or negativity. Remind yourself of your strengths, and how you cope with things. Think about what you want to happen, rather than the worse case scenario. This uses different pathways in your brain and, with repetition, your brain begins to learn to be more positive. Remember, even trying to think positively helps!

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we might need a professional helping hand to begin to move out of depression. This is where I come in. Hypnotherapy can help greatly by refocussing your mind on positive things, and moving towards improving and coping one step at a time. Sessions are relaxing, positive and enjoyable. You will also receive a free relaxation track to get the process started. Book a FREE hypnotherapy consultation now  and start this year with a positive step for you.

With warmest, positive wishes for your health and wellbeing,

Jo x

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