Archive for the ‘Mental health’ Category

Every man and his black dog

Posted by on August 6th, 2010


Here’s an article that appeared in the Guardian this week. It’s the author’s account of his own clinical depression, which he says is still a taboo subject.

I wanted to write this blog because, funnily enough, depression is taboo in the hypnotherapy world. Much has been written in textbooks and journals to discourage hypnotherapists from going anywhere near it. Some therapists believe that we shouldn’t use hypnotherapy with clinically depressed clients without written consent from their psychiatrist. I’m uncomfortable with this because it denies clients the right to choose their own method of treatment, in confidence. Other authors have said that we shouldn’t treat the clinically depressed at all.

Apart from the logistical farce of separating clinical depression from the layman’s variety, I think this view perpetuates myths of both hypnotherapy and mental illness. Depressed people are represented as being pathological and potentially dangerous. Hypnosis is, supposedly, an unpredictable, potentially dangerous form of mind-tampering which risks unhinging the depressive’s already fragile sense of reality. How strange for hypnotherapists to take such a suspicious view of our own profession!

I think these authors fail to recognise the normality of depression. In any one year, 8-12% of the UK population will meet the diagnostic criteria – and many of those people are still going to work, having relationships, remembering not to talk to strangers and looking both ways before they cross the road.

Our perceptions of depression are simply too dramatic. Some otherwise capable people stop functioning dramatically because of mental illness, but so many others simply live with the symptoms of depression, month after month, year after year.

Hypnotherapy lends itself to changing the behavioural aspects of depression. When a person ‘lives with’ depression, they start learning patterns of behaviour, ways of coping or responding to situations, which in the long term can be more destructive than the original low mood. Hypnosis transforms those patterns into something more positive. As a result, the person’s confidence increases and their mood lifts.

Ericksonian hypnotherapy is wonderful for tapping into a person’s unconscious resources. Milton H. Erickson taught that each of us possesses whatever awareness and abilities we need within ourselves – and in hypnosis, we can come up with solutions that hadn’t otherwise occurred to us. It’s such a simple, but epiphanic, way to help a depressed person out of their ‘rut’.

Over the years I’ve developed my own formula for keeping out of the doldrums. For me, it consists simply of company, dancing, mornings (that is, getting up in the morning), nights out, and writing stories.

If you can think of something that has helped you or someone you know with depression, or if you can imagine something that would help, I’m always interested to hear. You can post here for all the world to see, or if you prefer, get in touch here. And as I learn more great solutions, I’ll let you know…!

(Thanks for the image to A Bitter Animator of my medicated cartoon life.)