Archive for Depression


© 2014 Phoebe Hutchison Author and Crisis Counsellor

I was devastated to hear about Robin Williams’ suicide. Another beautiful person, who struggled with severe depression, and chose to leave life in this tragic way.


Almost twenty years ago one of my close friends also took his life after not coping with depression. I could not save my friend all those years ago because I didn't understand depression.


However, now as a crisis counsellor and author, I work weekly with clients who are dealing with depression, anxiety, and some have suicidal thoughts. And after five years research (for my latest book), and counselling many clients with depression, I believe I finally UNDERSTAND this illness.


Most of society is focused on the SYMPTOMS of depression, and not the CAUSES. 


In conjunction with prescription medication prescribed by a doctor, and any existing mental health plans, I believe we need to go deeper; to the core of depression and address the UNDERLYING issues that contribute to, and are sustaining, the depression.


Most people have heard that depression is a ‘mental illness’, believed to be based on chemical imbalances in the brain... But what causes these chemical balances?


I believe MANY things contribute to these imbalances.


I look at the client’s life holistically, and assess these 8 specific areas from The Crisis Wheel (see my book, Are You Listening? Life Is Talking to YOU for more information) to get to the core of the depression:


If you or someone you know has depression, ask these 8 simple questions:


1. Thought Patterns: Are they predominantly positive or negative?

2. Self Esteem: How do you see yourself, in the roles you play? Is it overall positive or negative?

3. Past unresolved grief/loss/trauma? Is anything keeping you from living in the present? Fear of the future?

4. Emotional status: What is your most common emotional status? Is it positive or negative?

5. Brain Chemicals (exercise/nutrition/prescription and non-prescription drugs): Do you eat well and exercise frequently?

6. Support Networks (family relationships, partner, friends): Do you feel supported, loved and appreciated? Do you have enough friends? Do you need some relationship strategies?

7. Passions/Hobbies: Are you following your passions? Do you allow time for YOU in your life?

8. Lifestyle stressors (career / finances): Do you work at a job you enjoy? Are finances getting you down?


I then give strategies for the specific areas that are in need of help.


These strategies (all included in my book) include: transforming the subconscious patterns, natural ways to improve brain neurotransmitters, self-assessment, conflict management, assertiveness training (as most people with depression are also oppressed!), psychological therapies such as CBT, mindfulness, grief therapy, gestalt, person centered therapy, understanding and processing emotions, anger management, techniques to minimize fear, changing attitudes to money, fine tuning intuition, rapidly changing negative thought patterns, increasing self-esteem... and much more!


If you are struggling in five or more areas in The Crisis Wheel, suicidal thoughts are likely, so changes need to be made FAST. I find my methods fast, effective and my clients and readers are thrilled with the transformations; usually within weeks!



*** Please SHARE this INFORMATION so more people with depression can experience HOPE and CHANGE – It is my goal to reduce world-wide suicide rates, by helping more people to cope with life and it’s challenges*** 


Too many people are taking their lives. THERE IS ANOTHER WAY.  I have seen these strategies work, time and time again.


Some recent feedback from readers:


'Finally, I can see that depression doesn't need to be a life sentence.'

‘People think I’m crazy (because the ideas are unconventional), but I DON’T care, because I am finally happy.’

Another reader, who was suicidal, said, 'I hardly feel those sad feelings anymore.'


Make this life, YOUR LIFE, be the best it can be. Take YOUR POWER back!


May your love for yourself and your life deepen daily.


Explaining Depression to a Child

Explaining Depression to a Child


Depression is a mental illness which can affect the thoughts, behaviour, emotions and energy of the sufferer.  The severity and duration of the illness can vary from person to person, but it can have a significant negative impact on the life of the sufferer.  When a parent has depression, it can be tempting to try to hide it from their children in order to protect them. This may only work as a short term solution however, because children are naturally curious and will pick up on the change in the behaviour and mood of the parent.  Children are sensitive and when a parent is depressed the child may notice and may get upset.


When talking to a child about depression, it can be helpful to first make sure that you have the answers to the questions they may ask, so it may be a good idea to make yourself more aware of the facts before having this conversation.  You should also take into account how old your child is before you have this conversation and decide how much you want to tell them. For instance a younger child may just need a basic understanding that mommy or daddy has an illness called depression whereas an older child can handle the facts about depression and will want to know more.

Whatever amount of information you want to share with them, it can be helpful to cover these points below to make sure the child does not worry.

  • The parent or family member is sick with an illness called depression. It is an invisible illness that can make someone feel sad, make them act different and make them seem tired a lot of the time. They may look the same but they can act very different to before. They may seem tired, sad, and angry or they may not do the same activities they used to.


  • The child is not to blame. The parent still loves them, even if they appear grumpy, sit quietly all the time or they cry a lot. The parent may not be engaging in the same activities as they used to but it is important to reassure the child that this has nothing to do with anything the child has done, it is the illness making them act this way. The child did not make the parent sad and they did not do anything wrong.


  • The sickness can be treated. Depending on the age of the child you can explain what the different treatments are, but reassure them that there are people out there (doctor, therapists) that can help and the parent will feel better. The parent will be happy again and they will have their energy back and like the things they used to like again. It is not up to the child to make everything better, the child needs to know that there are people helping their parent get better and they are not alone.



  •  It is ok for the child to have feelings about this and to talk about it. The child needs to know that they can ask for help. This affects them greatly and they should feel safe talking about their feelings and sharing their concerns.


Some questions that the children may have about the parent’s depression.

Why is mommy/ daddy sad all the time/ crying a lot/ spending a lot of time in bed?

Mommy/ Daddy is sick with something called depression. Depression is an illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels and acts. It can make them seem angry a lot or make them very sad or tired. Depression makes the person think and feel and act different.

Did I do something wrong? Did I make them feel like this?

No, it is not your fault; the depression has made your mommy/daddy feel this way. You have done nothing wrong. Your mommy and daddy still love you very much.

When will they feel better?

There are many treatments to help mommy/ daddy and there are lots of people out there, like doctors and therapists that can help make them feel better again.  They are not going to feel like this forever.  With a little help, they will be back acting like they used to and feeling like themselves again soon.

Will I get depression from them?

You cannot catch depression from another person like you would catch chicken pox. Depression is a mental illness and you cannot see it. It affects your thoughts and feelings and you won’t get it because your mommy/ daddy has it.


Throughout the conversation, it is a good idea to reassure the child that they are loved and that they did not do anything wrong.  Tell them that there are ways to make mommy/ daddy better and they will be back the way they were again.  Also, let them know that they can talk about their feelings because this affects them too. They need to feel that it’s ok for them to talk about what’s going on with them and how this makes them feel. Communicating well with your children about your depression will help minimize the distress caused to them and make sure they feel included and loved.


What is stress :

Stress is the natural response of the body to the demans placed on it . Little stress is a great thing although too much stress can have debilitating consequences to your health , relationships etc .

Everyone needs stress in order to live well , to increase vigor and zest . Without stress , life would have no motivation- finding the equilibrium is key . A lack of stress shows the body is understimulated – leaving a window for feelings of boredom , isolation – this leads to an increase in anti social behaviour , harmful and risk taking behaviour towards themselves. Too much stress can lead to a variety of problems including medical implications of hypertension , headaches , stomach upset and also the risk of heart disease and strokes . The emotional implications are also huge including anger , anxiety , fear and distrust hence limiting the personal relationships

Their is quite often a trigger or an event that increases stress levels to an over stressed area. It is not always a negative stressor such as deaths , family separations , redundancy , it can also be a positive such as a holiday , new job , new relationships .

In order to cope with stress , many people utilize coping skills – in some cases the unhealthy coping skills are used , these can be harmful and it is far more beneficial to utilize healthy coping skills

Stress coping skills

-Stress journal
What caused your stress?
How you felt both physically and emotionally
How you acted in response
What  you did to make yourself better


Unhealthy coping skills
Drinking alcohol
Zoning out- TV/computer
Using pills or drugs
Oversleeping / over eating
Avoidance / Denial
Lashing out
Angry outbursts
Physical violence
In nature
Call a good friend
Sweat out with exercise

Take a short nap

Write in your journal
Take a long bath
Light candle
Play with a pet
have a laugh

Work in your garden

Read a book
Listen to music

Creative expression though whatever medium you are comfortable with
Relaxation Practices
Deep breathing
Progressive muscle relaxation
Tai chi
Massage therapy

Other points include eating disorders, self harm

What can I do to support someone with depression?

1. Educate yourself. There are countless sites on the Internet where you can learn about depression, its symptoms, and treatment. My Depression is an excellent starting place to find answers to many common questions about depression. Learn about informed consent and the legal aspects of treatment in your state. Read up on disability law as it applies to the mentally ill.

2. Put yourself in their shoes. Learn what depression feels like, the misconceptions about mental illness that they must deal with, and get the facts about what depression really is.

3. Take care of yourself. Feelings of depression are contagious. Periodically take some time to step back from the situation and recharge your batteries.

4. It's okay to feel upset, angry, frustrated. These feelings are a valid response to a very trying situation. Join a support group, talk with a close friend, or see a doctor or therapist. The important thing is vent your frustrations rather than allowing them to build up inside.

5. Be there for them. Give them a shoulder to cry on or just listen while they spill out their hearts to you. Be patient with them. Let them know that you care. Share the things you've learned while researching depression. Let them know it's not their fault, that they're not weak or worthless.

6. Remember that the depressed person's behaviour isn't indicative of the "real" person. The depressed person has impaired social skills. They may be withdrawn and shy or sullen and angry. When the depressed person lashes out in anger, it's because they're actually angry with themselves and the way they feel. You just happen to be there. When your spouse or significant other doesn't feel like having sex, don't take it personally. Loss of sex drive is a classic symptom of depression, as well as the medications used to treat it. It doesn't mean they don't love you.

7. Depressed people aren't lazy. They're ill. Everyday activities like cleaning house, paying bills, or feeding the dog may seem overwhelming to them. You may have to take up the slack for them for awhile. Just like if they had the flu, they simply don't feel up to it.

8. Medications and therapy are crucial to their recovery. Help keep them on track with treatment. Help to ease their fears about treatment by letting them know that they're not crazy.

9. Offer hope in whatever form they will accept it. This could be their faith in God, their love of their children, or anything else that makes them want to go on living. Find what works best for them and remind them of it whenever they're not sure they can hang on any longer. If they're suicidal, you may need to seek immediate help. There are some very valuable suicide resources on the Internet that will help you to help your loved cope with suicidal feelings as well.

10. Love them unconditionally and let me know it's their illness you're frustrated with, not them.

What are the symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behaviour, and physical well-being.

  • Changes in Thinking - You may experience problems with concentration and decision making. Some people report difficulty with short term memory, forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts and thinking are characteristic of depression. Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt, and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructive thoughts during a more serious depression.
  • Changes in Feelings - You may feel sad for no reason at all. Some people report that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable. You might lack motivation, and become more apathetic. You might feel "slowed down" and tired all the time. Sometimes irritability is a problem, and you may have more difficulty controlling your temper. In the extreme, depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Changes in Behaviour - Changes in behavior during depression are reflective of the negative emotions being experienced. You might act more apathetic, because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with other people, so social withdrawal is common. You may experience a dramatic change in appetite, either eating more or less. Because of the chronic sadness, excessive crying is common. Some people complain about everything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people may neglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needless to say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so work productivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people even have trouble getting out of bed.
  • Changes in Physical Well-being - We already talked about the negative emotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled with negative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during the night, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many aches and pains. Others are restless, and can't sit still.


Now imagine these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months. Imagine feeling this way almost all of the time. Depression is present if you experience many of these symptoms for at least several weeks. Of course, it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself. If you think that you might be depressed, see your doctor or a psychologist as soon as possible. A psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, or just under a lot of stress and feeling sad. Remember, depression is treatable. Instead of worrying about whether you are depressed, do something about it. Even if you don't feel like it right now.

What is depression?

Depression is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.