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When we are depressed we feel overwhelmed and lack energy and motivation. We feel tired and don't sleep well. Everything feels too much trouble, we are listless and avoid socialising hiding ourselves away often staying ‘under the duvet’ for days at a time. We struggle with feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. We may feel guilty, irritable or angry (especially at ourselves) as well as sad.

It is common to use negative (black and white) thinking when you are depressed. You only see the extreme ends of the spectrum - something's either perfect or totally useless, there's nothing in between. At the same time people who have depression apply a negative filter which seizes the negative information and listens to it, dismissing or disregarding other, more positive, information. I encourage my counselling clients to notice when they do this and to identify what automatic thoughts spring into their mind to promote this one-sided view. Together we work out how they can adapt and change the automatic thoughts to ones which give a wider, more balanced, picture through a process known as cognitive restructuring.

When I am counselling people with depression or symptoms of depression I initially help them to find some physical activities and encourage them to become more active. Increased levels of physical activity can help to lift low mood. Sometimes, if they are socially isolated, I suggest they exercise their interpersonal skills as well (e.g. smiling and nodding to a stranger, saying hello to someone). These tasks also help to lift their mood and add to their self-confidence. At the same time we work together to explore the critical/negative thoughts they hold about themselves and the world in general.

If you are being treated for depression by your doctor I should prefer to work with his knowledge and consent. I do not expect to have any direct communication with him and would never disclose the content of our sessions to him. I use a cognitive/behavioural (CBT) approach when working with depression because I have found it works well with this illness. This means we will be doing a certain amount of goal-setting and I may ask you to keep records and send them to me by email. Working online may be easier to do than attending a face to face session if you are socially withdrawn. If you want to find out more please email me

Download my free leaflet on Understanding Depression here


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