This article is a follow up to the depression test you can take here: Depression Test
I’m so glad you submitted your details to receive this report on depression. It seems that, from your answers, you’re probably not severely depressed but might suffer from moderate depression.
The good news is that, so do other people from time to time. I’m always relieved when I hear that I’m amongst friends and not isolated with the way I feel. I hope you do too.
Still, you maybe having a particularly few bad days because you took the time to fill out the questions and I’m guessing you were wondering if it’s anything serious and what you could do to feel better.
In terms of symptomatic severity, moderate depression is the next level up from mild depression. Moderate and mild depression share similar symptoms.
Additionally, moderate depression may cause:
Problems with self-esteem
Feelings of worthlessness
The greatest difference between mild and moderate depression is that the symptoms of moderate depression are severe enough to cause problems at home and work. We may also find significant difficulties in our social life.
Moderate depression is easier to diagnose than mild depression because the symptoms significantly impact our daily life. The key to a diagnosis, though, is to make sure we talk to our doctor about the symptoms we’re experiencing.
If we're not ready to speak to a doctor, we can think about getting some other help. Therapy is a brilliant way to get help that’s unique to our experience rather than a tick box exercise that some people experience when they seek a doctor’s help.
Next we look at some information on how to find a therapist and get the best from them.
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One-to-one therapy is the way to receive objective information about our lives and ourselves. It gives us an idea of what is normal and how far off normal we may be.
Some people say the idea that there is a ‘normal’ in the first place leaves us prone to judging ourselves. However, there is a normal pattern of development that all humans go through.
If we are depressed, then this pattern of development has been arrested. With therapy, we can go back to when we stopped growing, address any trauma, retrain ourselves and then heal. If we have a good therapist, we won’t even realize we are going through this process – it just happens.
So how do we find a good therapist?
It can be difficult, because the industry is not regulated and any of us could set up as a therapist tomorrow. Even if it were regulated, there is no guarantee we wouldn’t fall in with a qualified person who also happened to be inept or just not right for us.
Difference between therapy, analysis and psychoanalytical psychotherapy
Therapy is different from analysis and psychoanalytical psychotherapy, whose practitioners are strictly monitored by their regulatory bodies. Therapy is a goal-orientated process that usually ceases after a set period. Analysis can last a lifetime, is more general, and more costly. Where therapy really works is it can provide the treatment required for the emergency situation of chronic depression.
The secret is to find help that is beneficial to us and does not hinder our recovery.
I found the perfect therapist after asking for recommendations from therapist authorities, universities who ran therapy courses, pastoral centres etc. When one name kept coming up, I took the chance and went to see her.
She was the perfect ‘leg up’ to help me out of my depression.
How to approach your prospective therapist
There are three ways to approach your prospective therapist:
Go in with the idea that you are interviewing them.
Record the first session so you can listen to it later and assess the conversation objectively. If the therapist doesn’t like it, then that’s a warning signal.
Take in someone you trust to sit in on the assessment meeting and get them to give you their view later on.
These tactics will sift out the weak therapists and give you a better chance of finding someone who can really get to grips with your issues and take you through some incredible changes.
Be aware that it can take a few sessions to really get an overview of where you are going with the therapist.
Even the process of finding a therapist can leave you feeing better because it is the beginning of change, which feels hopeful.
What do we want the therapist to do for us?
There are several jobs that we want the therapist to do – listen, be objective, comfort us, explain what’s normal and help us to leave them.
1. We need the therapist to listen
Many of us have never had the experience of ‘being heard’. By this we mean having someone listen carefully to our exact words and assimilate the essence of what we are saying, in order that they can reflect it back to us – so that we can hear our problem coming out of someone else’s mouth.
This allows us to listen to the problem in a way that lets us get a firmer grasp on our concerns. It also gives us an opportunity to put them right when they don’t get it spot on.
Try this out with a friend in order to get an understanding of the power of true reflection. Ask someone to listen to you speak. Tell them what’s on your mind in two minutes, then ask them to repeat what you have said, and listen to your problems being retold. You will be amazed how this technique takes the heat out of a problem that had otherwise seemed insurmountable.
2. We need the therapist to offer an objectivity that we can’t find ourselves
When swamped with a crisis or trauma it is almost impossible to take an overview of ourselves, as we often feel out of control and buried under a mass of anxiety and fear.
We need to get an indication of our situation without being influenced by our own neurosis.
We often need practical assistance in how we behave. An objective view can help us achieve this.
We can make incorrect decisions about how we respond to people and situations when we are traumatized. A good therapist will help us find the right course of action that will leave us intact and will be for our own good.
We must ask them to be objective on our behalf in order that we can move forward through the dilemma, outlining the options they can see and helping us weigh them up to a positive outcome.
This article may help:
3. We need a therapist to comfort us when we feel pain
Many of our problems stem from us running from painful feelings. By trusting a therapist we are allowing another human being to help us face those feelings.
When we do arrive at the point where we can feel our feelings, we need support and encouragement to express them, because so many of us are frightened of releasing pain for fear that ‘if we start, we will never stop’.
While feeling pain or grief, we need to know we are not odd; we need to know we are going through a normal procedure of releasing our pain in order to move on; we need to know we are not the only person to whom this is happening.
We do not need to be patronized while we move along this path, but we do require patience and understanding. The words that will soothe us are those of hope, that no matter what has happened to us we have the capability to survive and can actually create a great life in spite of our losses and our pain.
Why is this? This is because when we grieve for our loss, we grieve for everything we have lost, not just our current loss.
The most important loss we can grieve is the loss of our dream. No matter what or whom we have lost, it is the dream of what could have been that hurts the most.
Once we can allow the pain to surface, like the bursting of a dam our grief will also wash away so many smaller losses that have been tucked away and ignored.
Well-managed grief can wash away our losses from years ago, allowing a backlog of pain to be released and for change to take place.
This enables us to feel freer than we have ever felt. People often discuss the powerful spiritual experiences they have had after a time of mourning – a closeness with a God, a sense of peace, a contentment they have never had before, a fulfillment in the simple things in life.
These experiences have filled many books and are often lost on the rest of us who are still running from the backlog of our life losses. It is vital to find a therapist who can understand the profundity of this journey and who can assist you in yours.
4. We need a therapist to explain to us what is ‘normal’
We need to know that there is a pattern of development that we are programmed to go through, that allows us to grow into our full potential. If this development is hindered then we become unhappy.
A good therapist can help us by pointing out how far off that course we are, and can suggest ways we need to change our thinking and behavior in order that we can retrace our steps and find our way out of the darkness.
For example, if we have suffered frustration in our career, a therapist would help us to explore what we need in order to feel fulfilled from our work, taking into account our individual circumstances.
Likewise, if we suffered neglect as a child, we can learn what is ‘normal’ in terms of what a child needs, and find ways of catching up with ourselves by getting attention in appropriate ways to make up for what we’ve lost. If we do this, we will no longer seek it from others in ways that may be detrimental to us as adults.
5. Finally, we need a therapist who understands that we must grieve for a given amount of time and then stop
It’s easy to think that we are never going to recover from depression and the grief behind it. In continuing with our grief for longer than is necessary, we re-traumatize ourselves.
Some therapists expect a person to be with them for years – something that will serve them well as they have a continuous income stream.
No one, unless they are mentally ill, should need to be with a therapist for more than two years. Some people stay with their therapist for much longer if the therapist allows it, and this can become another dependence.
A good therapist will know when we are ready to move on from our grief, and indeed may shove us out of the nest if it appears we are settling down for the long haul. If you are doubtful as to whether or not your therapist can offer these basic services, consider finding someone else.
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*** Please note this is not a replacement for an appointment with a medic and never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this web site.***