Treating depression: Why thinking about it won't work Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
Depression is now one of the leading conditions affecting humanity, and although much treatment is available it remains a huge burden and cost to our communities everywhere.
One of the hallmark symptoms of depression is lack of energy or feeling exhausted. What isn’t often considered is that if we live in a way that exhausts our body, we are likely to eventually begin to think negatively and lose motivation, both of which are typical symptoms of depression. Hence the importance of making lifestyle changes that support our bodies to regain and maintain a sense of vitality as a preventative measure against depression.
We cannot expect to think well if we are not supporting our bodies to be well.
Or in other words… Why do we go to our heads for answers without addressing what is going on in our bodies? Many people describe that they do not respond to treatment that solely focuses on changing their thought patterns. This suggests that we ought not to focus on just our thinking patterns when addressing depression, but to support our bodies too. After all, our brain is located in our body therefore addressing the totality of our body makes sense. Hence any treatment for depression ought to address both the mind and the body, for otherwise we are left short of the whole.
Hence it is not wise to merely attempt to talk your way out of depression, but instead embrace an all-encompassing approach involving the entire body.
But what does this approach look like practically?
Addressing the emotional blockages (with counseling) involves identifying what the underlying issue is with regards to a person’s depression. For some, they may have begun noticing their symptoms of depression following a relationship breakdown, a loss of a job, or after diagnosed with an illness or a disease. It is important that a person talks about how they truly feel about these triggering circumstances rather than ignore them or avoid dealing with them. Otherwise we are essentially allowing life to dictate to us how we are to be, rather than choosing how we truly feel to live our lives.
When we withdraw from life we set ourselves up to experience all the typical symptoms of depression. This type of withdrawal is an inner withdrawal, and may involve a person physically withdrawing from people or employment but not necessarily. And whist a person may feel justified in their reason to withdraw, it is nevertheless always a choice that we need not make.
For many people the issues they have around their depression may seem too large to surmount, and they simply may feel unequipped to deal with the circumstances they are in. But here is where our body can come into play to support our mind, for example the simple act of walking daily can support in reducing the symptoms of depression. But further to the mere functional act of walking, have we considered that perhaps all our daily movement can shift negative ingrained ways of thinking characteristic of depressive thoughts if performed in a quality that supports a true return to vitality?
Addressing depression involves embracing and committing to all aspects of our lives, both physical and psychological– this is perhaps the best antidote for depression.
More information about the practical ways we can care for our bodies to support our psychological wellbeing can be found in the article Simple self-care for our bodies.
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.