Stress is on the up

N2K_Stress_2011_6mmStress has been a hot topic for years, and it’s not getting any better.  People are even more stressed now and technology is making it worse.  How many emails do you have to deal with each day?  Do you get phone calls and emails wherever you are at any time of the day or night?

READ: Heads Together to improve mental health awareness, a campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

When I wrote the book Stress – The Essential Guide, the thing that became most obvious to me was how most people don’t really help themselves.  We have so many habits and idiosyncrasies, beliefs and obsessions that we often do things in a way that make life much more difficult for ourselves.  So I included a paragraph called Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

This is not meant to be harsh. If you have lost someone close to you, you or someone close to you is seriously ill, you’ve been through divorce, or lost your job you are more than likely to feel very stressed. But you do need to be good to yourself when this is happening. There are so many ways that we aggravate situations.

For example:

• You might be a perfectionist – always wanting everything to be just so.
• You may procrastinate – putting things off until they overwhelm you.
• You may have been brought up with very strong beliefs or prejudices which don’t serve you well and  mean you cannot accept certain situations.
• Perhaps you are in denial and cannot face things, thereby making things worse for yourself.
• Or maybe you are proud and don’t like to tell people when things are going wrong.
• You might find it impossible to say no, even when you really don’t want to do something.
• And similarly you are always doing things for other people, when you have plenty on your plate already.

It’s not easy to change your personality without some serious work on yourself, and that’s where counselling can really help.  Understanding why you do things is a great start to trying to stop them. Do you do things because you’re still trying to please your parents, even if they’re not even here any more?

There’s no doubt that it’s easier to make changes when you’re in the good times, but it’s likely that you are only faced with these problems when things are getting out of control. Stress is a feeling of being unable to cope with the pressure upon you, so it’s a good idea not to put pressure on yourself and stop being so hard on yourself.

Stress – The Essential Guide by Frances Ive

 

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Guest blog: Depression

Caroline Carr: Depression affects everyone’s life in one way or another – either directly through experiencing it yourself, or indirectly through loving or caring about someone who does. It is likely to be the result of a combination of some of the following: life circumstances – what has occurred, and what is occurring in the person’s life, the type of personality a person has, and how they deal with things generally, whether or not depression runs in the family, genes and DNA.

Depression can come on suddenly as the result of a trauma or stressful event – although it may not show up till some time afterwards. Or it can build up for years. Some people can have one bout during their lives – or several. Others feel sad and gloomy for months or years. In some cases, it never really goes away.

When a person is depressed, they can become so focused on their negative thoughts and feelings, that it becomes their normal mood state. They can’t seem to break this. To them, everything has a down side – as if they are stuck in an ever-shrinking, oppressive mental black box. They cannot just ‘snap out of it’ – they would if they could, because all they want is to feel better. People describe feeling as if their life is spiralling out of control; therefore any unhelpful behaviour is likely to be a result of that.

Everyone’s experience differs, and this may change as they sink into a deeper state of depression. It is thought that men and women experience and deal with depression differently too. Some people feel and exhibit anger, some do not. Many people do not have the energy to be angry. They may be in a state of lethargy and hopelessness.

Different types of depression are more debilitating than others – and more serious.

Categories and types include:

Bipolar Disorder (manic depression)
Generally characterized by severe mood swings – ‘up’ periods of mania with huge surges of energy and activity, and sometimes irritability and anger, then severe crashing ‘lows’ – the depression. Some people only experience these occasionally, and others may have up to five or six episodes a year. For more details see: www.mdf.org.uk

Post-natal depression:
This can be very serious, and the mother and others around her may not recognise it for what it is. Often it doesn’t show up until months after the baby is born.  A woman suffering with post natal depression needs a great deal of support.  For more details see: http://www.pni-uk.com/ , and  www.apni.org

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
SAD affects some people over the winter months due to reduced exposure to light. This is thought to affect the chemistry in the brain. It is fairly common in the UK, and the symptoms are similar to those of depression.  But, some people are affected adversely by bright sunlight and hot weather too, particularly if they are experiencing high levels of anxiety. For more details, see the article on Healthy Soul: Are you sad?

Clinical Depression 
This is when a person’s mood is generally low, and this affects all aspects of their life for longer than a few weeks. Often, it’s not triggered by anything in particular.  It seems to come from a shift or change ‘within’ the person, and there may be no obvious reason for it. 

I think it’s really important to see the doctor in the first instance, because any symptoms could be due to something else, such as another illness or infection, or a deficiency of some kind. Assuming that there are no medical issues though, treatment offered usually includes medication, often combined with talking therapy such as psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). However, many complementary therapies work really well in the treatment of depression.

Here are a few links to organisations who are doing fantastic work to raise awareness and to provide information and support about depression and other aspects of mental health:

www.sane.org.uk
www.mind.org.uk

www.depressionalliance.org
www.blackdogtribe.com
www.rethink.org
There is also: www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx
And my own organisation to support partners: www.mypartnerisdepressed.com

Caroline Carr is the founder of  http://www.mypartnerisdepressed.com/. She is a hypnotherapist and life coach and the author of  Living With Depression – how to cope when your partner is depressed.
 

 

My partner is depressed

One of the most difficult aspects of depression is that few people recognise when they are feeling really bad. It often takes someone else close to you to point it out before it registers, but it’s not uncommon for someone with depression to be in denial.  This particularly impacts on partners, who are living with them every day and who know them well enough to recognise the signs.
Immediately this can cause conflict that can lead to relationship problems, and in some cases can result in break up. So how can anyone deal with a depressed partner?

Caroline Carr, hypnotherapist and life coach, has started a website, www.mypartnerisdepressed.com 020 7467 8517 or  01202 731385 to provide guidance to people in this situation. She also offers workshops and consultations, and has an e-book on her website that you can download free of charge.  See at the end of the article for details of a competition to win a free session with Caroline.

Caroline is kindly offering her time to one lucky winner (£500 prize value), either in person in Dorset or London, or through four telephone coaching sessions.To win a session with Caroline please email vitality@pegasuspr.co.uk with the title ‘Healthy Soul competition’  before 31st March 2012.

Caroline has personal experience of this issue, and she says, ‘As a partner you can get emotional shocks because you don’t know what to expect and when. Communication goes wrong between you and you may feel worried, hurt, angry, dejected and eventually you build up resentment.  The main message I give is that this is not the partner’s fault. You need to take an emotional step back from your partner to avoid getting sucked in, or you can find yourself getting depressed as well.’

This is of course much easier said than done, but Caroline teaches people a range of strategies and techniques to help themselves to step back from the situation and avoid become embroiled. ‘You need to stay strong and have your own life. Many people find it hard to be selfish, but you can do this with compassion and kindness as you do have to protect yourself.’

This is particularly important when there are children in the family too.  ‘My advice is to talk to children, making it age appropriate. They pick up on the vibes even if they are very young, and they can feel the hostility and aggression that’s below the surface. As soon as they can understand it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Mum/Dad is not very well and that’s why they are behaving like that.”  It’s so important that they don’t blame themselves.

‘Depression is so intangible and it eats into every aspect of life.  It can have many causes – something that has happened in the past, hormone imbalances, deficiencies in certain nutrients, or something more obvious that has happened recently, such as bereavement.

‘I sometimes find that under hypnosis people discover something happened in their lives that they don’t even remember, but which has been making them feel bad ever since.’

We still live in a society where depression is a taboo. ‘People still aren’t good about discussing their feelings, and if you confide in someone who doesn’t react well it can make things even worse,’ Caroline continues.  ‘You have to get into the mindset that it’s OK to think about your own needs, and recognise that you are on your own path in life and you don’t want to be pulled off it.’
 
Caroline Carr will be holding free talks at this year’s Vitality Show (London’s Earls Court 2, 22nd-25th March) entitled ‘Zippy Women’ in the One Life Theatre on Friday at 2:30pm and Saturday at 1:30pm. She will also be holding a workshop entitled ‘How Not to Worry’ on Saturday at 11am. For tickets and further information please see www.vitalitylive.co.uk

See Healthy Soul’s article: Coping with Depression