Help With Depression

Research has shown that in almost all cases depression is not a biological or genetic illness. The biological changes that occur are the result of the depression not the cause. In some cases the biological effects are caused by diet, and pregnancy can also cause depression, although most cases of post-natal depression are caused by the highly emotional thinking the depressed person is doing rather than being driven by the chemical changes. And most depression that ‘runs in families’ is due to learning how to respond to the World around us how the parents or grand parents did, learning a depression way of responding in the same way that a child learns to walk, talk and behave from parents and adults in their life.

Studies carried out in the US to try to find out what works when treating depression showed that to quickly lift depression what was needed was a mixture of cognitive, behavioural and interpersonal therapies. This has now been improved upon by also utilising a solution-focused approach, a human givens approach and guided imagery or hypnosis.

When a therapist works with a client to help them ensure their basic needs are being met and helps to get their focus of attention off of worrying and ruminating and onto problem solving and relaxing the mind, depression often lifts quickly. To significantly lift depression can now often takes less than three sessions. Depending on how depressed someone is, some people can make the changes they need to make themselves without help just because they know what changes are needed to be made, whereas other people need a little encouragement, and some need a therapist or coach that can help them to make the changes. And although depression can be lifted quickly that doesn’t mean that depression is lifted quickly with everyone. There can be a lot going on in someone’s life that has led to the depression and that maintains the depression that needs to all be addressed before the depression is finally able to be lifted for good.

Most depression is caused by emotional worrying

It could be worrying about a past problem or event, present problem or event or a future problem or event. This worrying causes over dreaming at night. When you dream too much it inhibits the release of serotonin and is almost as active as being awake. It also reduces the abilities of the immune system. All of this leads to waking up early as your brain wants to stop you from dreaming excessively, then often managing to get back to sleep yet still waking tired and unmotivated. This can then start off the next days’ cycle of worrying.

When depressed your thinking style changes as you are in a highly emotional state of mind. It can be like walking around in a trance (I would say you are walking around in a trance). You start thinking that everything has always been bad and always will be and that if anything good ever happens it won’t last, or it was only a one-off good thing, or ‘looking back on it, it wasn’t that good really’. Because you are in a highly emotional state you can’t think effectively about your problems so they can seem easily overwhelming because the emotional part of the brain and the logical part of the brain are two different areas, so when you are in any highly emotional state, whether it is depression, or even love, you don’t see different options, you don’t notice all the information about a situation, you become blinkered or blinded by the emotional trance you are in making it hard to see a way out.

To lift depression clients can learn to relax. This can be in many ways. One of the best is to do 7-11 breathing which is where you breathe in deeply to the count of 7 then out to the count of 11. By doing this with the out breath longer than the in breath you trigger the relaxation response. Just 3 or 4 deep 7-11 breaths will help to relax a client and focus their mind.

Next the client can challenge their thinking by thinking about what it is that they are worrying about and problem solving it. Also they can spend time each morning closing their eyes and truly imagining some good things about the upcoming day. At night or in the evening also spend a few moments to imagine what it will be like to feel much better, who will be the first to notice? How will they know? What will their behaviour be like? Really imagining it and feeling it.

AS SOON AS CLIENTS STOP WORRYING THEIR SLEEP WILL IMPROVE AND THE DEPRESSION WILL RAPIDLY START TO LIFT.

I cover depression on my course ‘Introduction To Overcoming Emotional Problems’ (Coming Soon) Which introduces about basic emotional needs, innate skills and abilities, and a variety of psychological problems and ideas about how best to treat them.

Below is a set of two self help tracks that can help to support people in lifting depression and anxiety. There is also a comments section. I look forward to your comments about the article, about the tracks, and if you have come here because you have been feeling depressed I look forward to hearing your progress and experience, and what you have found helpful to move on that you think would be helpful for others to know.

Feel free to share this article with others that you think may benefit from the article or the tracks.

There are some other locations on the web you can find useful information, like here about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and here about treating depression with hypnotherapy vs CBT.

Free Self Help Wellbeing Tracks – Use Both Tracks, They Are Interactive So To get The Most From These Tracks Follow The Instructions And Carryout The Tasks.

Track One

Track Two

Help With Addictions

We are all born with the ability to create habits and with the process to get addicted. Without these abilities mankind wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have. There are many things that naturally turn into habits so that we don’t have to pay all our attention to them just to do them. Like driving a car, brushing teeth etc…

Sometimes this process gets high-jacked by a negative habit, like finding yourself smoking before you realise what you are doing. The process for addiction also serves a useful purpose. The process gives you a ‘high’ when you do something and causes irritation or uncomfortableness when you don’t.

This process is required for survival and evolution.

For example when a stone-age man used a stick to break open a coconut the ‘high’ of that achievement wears off over time so the stone-age man then turns that stick into an axe with a piece of flint. He then gets another ‘high’ from that achievement which also wears off over time. This process keeps the stone-age man reaching a point where he needs to do something to get that same high. Addictions high-jack this process giving a ‘high’ when carrying out the addictive behaviour and causing uncomfortableness when fighting to not carry out the behaviour. Over time you need to do more of the addictive behaviour to get the same ‘high’.

A useful analogy of addiction and the associated cravings is one of a company that wants to make positive changes. The ‘boss’ which is the part of you that is saying ‘I want to quit smoking (for example)’ has good intentions. Beneath the boss is a ‘secretary’ that monitors incoming messages from the body. The ‘security guard’ monitors levels of various chemicals in the body but doesn’t know what should or shouldn’t be there, the guard just alerts the secretary if any of the chemicals begin to go missing or reduce.

When the boss has stopped the intake of nicotine, after a short while it starts reducing in the blood. The security guard notices this and so he emails a message to the secretary. This message is laced with dopamine which is a feel good chemical. The secretary checks on the computer and sees that the boss has said ‘no cigarettes’. So the secretary ignores the message. As the nicotine goes down even further the security guard sends another message laced with even more dopamine. This time the secretary does a search on the computer for memories where nicotine has been taken into the body, and searches for memories that are also laced in dopamine. What the secretary discovers is that smoking has made the boss feel good when stressed, when bored, when socialising, etc… So the secretary sends a message to the boss laced with even more dopamine for the boss to act on.

The negative addictive behaviour once served a purpose

People start addictive behaviour for many reasons. It could be many things from peer pressure to experimentation. Often the behaviour initially is only in one context, like smoking with specific friends, or drinking with friends. One thing that all addictive behaviours have in common is that they give you a ‘high’. It could be a ‘high’ from doing a risky extreme sport, or a ‘high’ from taking a specific substance.

To start with this addictive behaviour is in your control. The bigger the ‘highs’ the sooner the addictive behaviour takes on a life of its own. Due to the way the brain works at some point when you feel anxious or bored you will want to relieve this feeling. To do this you turn to the most effective thing you know, which is often the addictive behaviour. This how you begin to create a habit for that behaviour. As long as you continue to do the addictive behaviour your mind will get used to the levels of various substances in your blood stream, whether these substances are created by your mind, like endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline etc, or whether these substances are added to your blood stream like nicotine.

Once you stop the addictive behaviour it takes a period of time for the chemicals in your blood to go back to normal. This period of time can be as little as a few hours for chemicals created internally, to a few days for chemicals like nicotine and longer for some stronger drugs. Once the chemicals in the blood have normalised all that is left is the habit, not the need for the chemicals.

The reason for turning to the addictive behaviour when you feel anxious or bored is that it gives you pleasure, or an instant feeling of gratification when you carry out the behaviour. Unfortunately most addictive behaviour quickly follows with a greater feeling of anxiety or depression as the effects of the behaviour wear off. This means that you have to do more of the addictive behaviour to get the same results.

Beating the addiction

One way to beat addiction is to link the addictive behaviour with the most negative outcomes you can vividly imagine, and not carrying out the addictive behaviour with the most positive outcomes you can vividly imagine. People with addictions will always have one or more of the basic needs or innate skills not being met, so find constructive ways to meet these.

Plan for times when you are most likely to give in to the addiction, finding ways to prevent the old behaviour pattern.

Don’t be put off by a relapse. Many people have a few relapses before they finally completely get rid of that addictive behaviour. When the addiction strikes it is actually only mildly uncomfortable to ignore the urge for the addictive behaviour but it tricks you into thinking it is worse. It also only lasts a few minutes. Try comparing it to other things like would you prefer a nagging toothache or this brief uncomfortableness for the addictive behaviour? Learn to relax; this lets you think more objectively and clearly. To relax you could breathe in to the count of 7 and out to the count of 11. The longer out breath triggers the relaxation response. Regularly vividly imagine the negative outcomes had you continued with the addictive behaviour and vividly imagine the positive outcomes of not carrying out that behaviour, what will it be like, what are the benefits, who else benefits, etc…

Feel free to leave comments below about how you get on overcoming addiction and please share this article with others that may be interested.

Help With Sleep

Sleep is fundamental to survival. Proper sleep boosts the immune system, refreshes and revitalises you for the following day. When you go into dream sleep the brain closes off all unfinished emotionally aroused patterns from throughout that day. Some people may think that they never dream or that they never sleep but all those people do sleep and dream. Sleeping and dreaming is so fundamental to life that without it people would die. On average people nowadays sleep for about 20% less time each night than people did a hundred years ago. This reduction in sleep has a dramatic effect on health. Sleep deprivation causes many accidents and increases the risk of psychiatric problems. Without sleep people find it increasingly difficult to function correctly, they have poorer memory and co-ordination skills etc…

Insomnia is probably the most common sleep disorder. It is often caused by excessive worrying. This can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. It also makes you dream too much which then makes you wake up tired (see depression section). Stopping worrying during the day will help to lift the insomnia. It will also help to stop nightmares (it also will help if you reduce anxiety-see anxiety section). Many sleep problems from night terrors (which occur in non-dream sleep and the sufferer awakens with no memory of the incident) to nightmares (bad dreams).

To help improve sleep it is advisable to make sure that you don’t have a clock near the bed that you can see as seeing how long you are awake for can lead to worrying about it which then makes it harder to sleep. To help you to relax and sleep at night you could purchase a relaxation CD to focus on as you go to sleep or you can learn to relax. To relax you could learn to tense and relax your muscle groups from head to feet in time with your breathing. Tensing up as you breathe in to the count of 7 then letting the muscles relax as you breathe out to the count of 11. Then pausing briefly to get a sense of that relaxation and beginning to get an idea of a pleasant ‘special place’ (don’t think of it as a ‘special place’ if this wording is wrong for you, find something that is right for you) forming in your mind that can become like a brief waiting room before you pass into sleep. After pausing you can then move onto the next muscle group (the neck for example) again breathing in to the count of 7 as you tense then out to the count of 11 as you relax, then pausing again. Doing this each night will retrain your brain to relax when it is time to go to sleep at night. Currently your brain will have been expecting the night to involve worrying or distracting thoughts etc… Some people may find that within a night or two of doing this they are sleeping properly others may take a week or a little longer before they regularly sleep well throughout the night.

Some tips to have the best chance of rapidly sleeping well; if you find you are in bed for a while and still not asleep then get up and go to a dark, cool room and sit there for 30 minutes. Always wake up early (don’t lie in). If possible don’t do shift work. Don’t watch TV or use a computer within an hour of going to bed. Don’t eat or drink too much within 2 hours of going to bed. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and other substances within 3 hours of going to bed. Avoid going to bed drunk. Have a hot bath 30 minutes before going to bed. Don’t exercise within 2 hours of going to bed. Another idea is attempt to stay awake for an hour longer than the time you would’ve normally ended up falling asleep. Many sleep problems are due to excessive worry or excessive emotional arousal. Learning to relax and be calm will help improve the quality and quantity of sleep you get. You can also write down everything that is on your mind before you fall asleep.

Drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills to help sleep is generally not advisable because these disrupt sleep patterns, but if prescribed you should follow what your Doctor advises or seek further medical advice. They may help someone get to sleep quicker but they disrupt sleep that goes on a few hours later. This disruption upsets the balance of rapid eye movement sleep and deep slow wave sleep. Due to receiving less rapid eye movement sleep you don’t close off all of the emotional arousing patterns from the day before so you get a build-up of open patterns requiring more R.E.M sleep the next night and then more the night after that etc… This can make people feel worse during the day and be more prone to anxiety problems as the brain is already overloaded with emotional arousal. They are likely to also get very emotional very quickly at almost nothing and not know why. Deep sleep is required for healing. So with reduced deep sleep they don’t do the required amount of healing on their body that they need to be doing. The deep sleep is involved in keeping the immune system charged up and in growth so both of these areas will also be affected so people may fall ill more frequently due to lowered resistance to illnesses.

Below is a self help track to help you fall asleep and get improved nights sleep that can be played on this site or downloaded, there is also a comments section where you can share your experiences, comments and progress. If you know anyone else that would benefit from this article or self help track please share this article with them.

Track One

Quit Smoking in Under 10 Minutes

A process to help you quit smoking. This quit smoking process is interactive. The audio of this video can be found on Amazon MP3 Downloads, iTunes and other Music Downloads sites as ‘Quit Smoking Process’, as can a range of other self help, training and relaxation Mp3’s.

This process is a rapid process to help you to quit smoking, it is less than ten minutes long and for many people just listening to this once for less than ten minutes will be enough to help you stop smoking. For others because it is interactive they may need to listen a few times to get an idea of the process they are following before successfully quitting smoking. And some people may benefit from listening a few times to quit smoking, and may need to listen a few times in the future.

People often have relapses, this is normal and OK, the important thing is how do you respond to relapses. If it is to instantly think ‘that’s it, I am a smoker again now’ then you will probably go back to smoking rather than seeing it as an isolated incident. It is normal that life throws you into situations where you respond with an old pattern that you had spent years using, rather than responding with the new pattern you now have. When this happens it is best to chalk it up as a one-off incident and start the next day a non-smoker again, and look at what led to that one-off situation, whether it was unusually stressful, an unexpected event that you hadn’t previously planned for, or some other reason. Once you identify this you can think about what you will do in the future differently if that type of event happens again to ensure you respond in a new way that helps you remain a non-smoker, rather than drifting back to responding in the old way.

Please share your comments and experiences below, it is always nice to get feedback on when you quit smoking and how long you have been a non-smoker for, and how you moved passed any blips or bumps in the road to continue as a non-smoker. Please share you story below, and share this page with others that also may be interested in quitting smoking.

Help With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is often linked to ritualism and addiction. It is usually to do with anxiety or insecurity (see anxiety section). The behaviour is often very ritualistic and if it is not carried out or the obsessive thought is fought against then it can cause feelings of anxiousness or uncomfortableness. Normally people with OCD have one or more of their basic needs not being met. When these get met it will help the OCD lift.

The most common compulsions in adults are:

  • Thoughts of contamination (which can lead to obsessive washing or cleaning)
  • Doubt (E.g. Whether you have locked doors or turned off switches)
  • Thoughts of having physical symptoms
  • Symmetry (straightening pictures, lining pens up on a desk
  • Aggressive thoughts

Compulsions are usually carried out to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress. Often it is believed the compulsive behaviour will prevent something unwanted occurring. OCD affects not just the person carrying out the behaviour but also those around them. When a compulsion is carried out the person enters a trance as the compulsion takes control. This trance can be triggered by specific situations, thoughts, feelings or times of the day or by a heightened level of tiredness.

To help remove the compulsion, clients can imagine watching a screen with someone calmly NOT carrying out the compulsive behaviour. Notice what they look like, how relaxed they appear, how they know that person is relaxed. Notice how well everything goes before during and after they hadn’t carried out the compulsive behaviour. Notice what else is better for them as they continue to behave differently. Then take a few moments to relax deeply and gently into that person in the screen. Seeing through their eyes, hearing what they would hear. ‘Try on’ their behaviour and beliefs. ‘Pretend’ what it is like to be them. Enjoy the feelings. Notice how much calmer they feel. Notice the benefits of being this way. Go to some old familiar situations where they had carried out the compulsive behaviour and notice the difference in how they respond to those situations as this person. Notice how calm they feel, how unbullied they feel to be going through the situation being the one in control, calm and relaxed. Then imagine being this person in some future situations when they would expect to have carried out that old compulsive behaviour. Notice how pleasurable it is to respond in this more desirable way. Tell the client to practice this regularly. If occasionally they still get the old compulsive feeling which can happen for a short while as they adjust to not doing that old behaviour suggest they could do this experiment – each time they feel the need to carry out the compulsion treble it. E.g., if they have to check everything is locked 3 times before they leave the house then check it 9 times. Tell them to stick to this whenever they feel the need to carry out the compulsive behaviour. This won’t be appropriate for all cases but if you can set a task that will make the compulsion a chore or change it in some way it is more likely to lead to the compulsion stopping.