A visit to the Counselling Centre

Janine was sick of feeling depressed. She had coped with depression most of her adult years. She had married for a second time eight years ago and had a 7 year old son. She also had a teenage daughter who was always arguing with her husband and she was stuck in the middle. Her extended family lived far away and she didn’t feel like she had anyone she could really talk to. She had a few friends but they were busy as well and Janine felt a sense of shame about unloading her problems on them so she kept quiet. She felt stuck in a rut. All her days felt the same, just a monotone of caring for family, going to work where she had to pretend she was happy. She was only 42 and wondered if this was all life was about. She didn’t know who she was anymore or what she wanted. One day in the supermarket carpark she saw a huge sign on a building saying Counselling Centre (Marton). She felt scared but took the plunge and called us. She found her Counsellor to be warm, welcoming and after her first appointment suddenly felt hope, a feeling long forgotten. Over the course of a couple of months with regular counselling sessions, she felt like a new...

The Neuroscience of Depression

Last week Sherina, Lynley and I attended an excellent training workshop with Dr Pieter Rossouw who specialises in neuropsychotherapy. Here’s a basic interpretation of what Pieter was teaching. I’m not a scientist or an Academic but as a Counsellor I understand the debilitating effects of depression so this is what I understood written in summary. Pieter’s focus was the Brain. Depression is a state of how the brain organises itself. The brain is a network of connections. A 10 month old baby creates 250,000 new networks per minute. A 35 year old creates 800 per day. Depression=Avoidance.The brain dis-connects. The normal process of thriving has been compromised. Healthy people engage with their environment. Depression causes people to disconnect from environment. Depression works as a protective system of ‘survival’ within the brain (the last stance). Depression decreases the awareness of others. A depressed person will see the world through a different set of glasses and interpret signs and meanings very differently to a well person. Anxiety is the pre-cursor to depression. You cannot have a major depression without an anxious brain. The depressed brain is hard wired and stuck in a neural loop. The route is A to B. To recover from depression new networks must be developed within the brain. New routes must be developed from A to C and A to D and so on to lessen the hard wiring of A to B. How to develop these new routes and pathways in the brain: Talking with someone will physically change the structure of the brain. It will enhance the neural networks and create interconnectedness. At the Counselling...

Enjoying Your Mental Health

Enjoying mental health means having a sense of wellbeing, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises. Just like your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. Boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy by following a few simple steps. Connect with others. Develop and maintain strong relationships with people around you who will support and enrich your life. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards. Take time to enjoy. Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. Do a crossword; take a walk in your local park; read a book; sew a quilt; draw pictures with your kids; play with your pets – whatever takes your fancy. Participate and share interests. Join a club or group of people who share your interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Join a sports club; a band; an evening walking group; a dance class; a theatre or choir group; a book or car club. Notice the here and now. Take a moment to notice each of your senses each day. Simply ‘be’ in the moment – feel the sun and wind on your face and notice the air you are breathing. It’s easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the...