Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Richardson, Human Givens practitioner.
Human Givens is UK based and only 15 years old yet there is respectable peer reviewed evidence that it helps with depression more effectively than medication or CBT. Human Givens is more than another model of counselling and purports to be a new bio-psycho-social model of being human.
Understand why you dream and you will understand depression
Tonight you will dream, even if you don’t remember doing so. Your brain will act out in story-form the hopes, fears and reflections that occupied your mind today. This refreshes your emotional brain, leaving it better prepared to deal with tomorrow’s stresses.
If we dream more because we are worrying more we slip into a vicious circle – of worrying, exhausting dreaming, leading to reduced motivation and energy and even more rumination. This is a depression. Many describe it as being locked in their brain, unable to escape from useless and obsessive rumination – a terrifying trance state of inward obsession.
Why people get depressed
People sink into a depressed mood when their innate physical or emotional needs are not being met and, instead of dealing with this situation they worry about it. All depressed people worry. This increases their dreaming, upsetting the balance between slow-wave, recuperative sleep and energy-burning dream sleep. Soon they start to wake up feeling tired and unmotivated. This makes them worry even more as they feel that “something is wrong with me”.
What feeds the depression
From a Human Givens perspective, the question would be – how possible is it to live a life where essential needs can be met, around safety, control, relationships and satisfying work? What is the nature of the crisis that might have triggered depression? How well are emotions, habitual patterns of thinking and responding helping to get these essential needs met? And finally, is there any trauma lurking somewhere in the past.
Helping depression clients – my experience
All efforts with a client must be directed in two directions. First, get arousal levels down so that sleep improves and second help the client problem solve so that they can get their life working better. This may require the healing of emotional resources caused by past trauma and strong emotional patterning.
I will not, at least until my client is feeling better – allow any extended talk on the past and all the bad that seems to be there and their theories of why they are feeling so bad.
I also encourage my client to listen daily to my Lift Depression download.
The high arousal of a depressed person is a trancelike self obsessed focus, which destroys the capacity to problem solve and so correct the underlying lack that caused the depression. Being able to problem solve and therefore take control gives a sense of hope and movement and reduces arousal.
Depression: some distortions of fact
To be deeply depressed is just about the most awful feeling we can experience, apart from sheer terror. But the topic is surrounded by false ideas. Depression, as experienced by the vast majority of sufferers, is not a biological illness; neither is it ‘anger turned inward’; nor is it a ‘chemical imbalance in the brain’ and it is not usefully divided into ‘clinical depression’, ‘post-natal depression’ and ordinary ‘depression’.
Low serotonin is the result not the cause of depression – and this is why anti-depressants are rarely the complete answer. Anti-depressants treat symptoms and not underlying causes and seem to work by suppressing REM (or dream) sleep.
Neither are depression symptoms hereditary. The fact that family members may all suffer from depression is better explained by their common environment than common genes.
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About the Author
Andrew has been practicing as a Human Givens accredited practitioner for eight years and has a thriving private practice. Follow Andrew @fbcounselling