We all experience occasional bouts of feeling sad or experience low-moods from time to time and that is normal.
However if you are struggling with your emotions and feel unable to cope; then it may be time for you to speak to a counsellor about how you're feeling.
Depression can affect every part of your daily life, making it hard for you to find enjoyment in day-to-day activities. Some days you may find it impossible to get out of bed, while other days you may feel less able to go about your normal daily tasks.
Living with depression can be incredibly difficult and somewhat debilitating, due to the nature of the condition; whilst seeking help can often be delayed due to various reasons such as feeling a sense of shame, embarrassment, guilt and not knowing what to expect or whether anyone will really listen and understand you.
Counselling supports you to have the time and space to share your experiences and feelings with a trusted professional who will listen to you without judgement and support you to find new ways to cope and let go of whatever is holding you back from experiencing the life you truly want and break free from the dark cloud of depression.
So let's smash that stigma surrounding mental health; and remind ourselves that counselling is, in essence one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.
Counselling & Nature Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Why is it that in the late autumnal and winter months our mental and emotional health goes into decline?
It could be that you are experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is triggered by the lack of sunlight in winter, which affects levels of hormones (melatonin and serotonin) in the part of the brain controlling mood, sleep and appetite – our circadian rhythms.
Individuals who experience SAD explain feeling symptoms synonymous with depression, lack of energy, concentration problems, anxiety, overeating, loss of libido, social and relationship problems and then experience sudden mood changes or periods of hypo-mania (over-activity) in spring.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) goes largely undiagnosed due to the fact that we are not always aware of our own struggles having a valid explanation. While “traditional” depression usually comes with sleeping problems and reduced appetite, Sad is associated with a yearning to “hibernate”.
As such, it is best to think of Sad as a spectrum. On one end of the scale, some people are not at all affected by seasonal changes. Further along, those experiencing “winter blues” might find themselves feeling tired, grumpy and a bit down.
Counselling and Nature based therapy can help to alleviate symptom of SAD by giving you the opportunity to talk to someone in confidence but also support you to learn more about the condition and how you can manage the symptoms better.
It's also empowering to learn that the symptoms SAD can be managed through diet, vitamin supplements, using light boxes and making use of the healing powers of nature; by taking mindful walks in the daytime to replenish your Vitamin D levels and regulate your melatonin production .
It is normal to feel worried from time to time or feel fearful of certain events or situations in our lives.
Believe it or not; anxiety is actually our internal smoke alarm going off and trying to protect us. Although sometimes it doesn't seem that way and can lead to us feeling that our fear is out of control and can render us unable to function properly and our most common way of dealing with anxiety is to avoid or ignore it. However this only makes the symptoms worse; and the problem with avoidance is that you never get to find out whether your fear about the situation and what could happen is actually true.
Anxiety is an essential part of our genetic make up and has been part of our bodily functioning since humans existed; keeping us hardwired to seek out danger since we were cave men/women.
Back then, we were equipped with an internal alarm system designed to protect us from the dangers surrounding us in the wild. This system would make us hyper-alert by giving us a boost of adrenaline that would increase the heart rate and boost the amount of oxygen going to our limbs so we were better able to fight or run from danger. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. The “butterflies in the stomach” feeling that many associate with anxiety is this mechanism kicking in, but instead of being used to avoid immediate danger, it is often wrongly and inappropriately activated in a person during normal, everyday situations when stress has built up, often unknowingly.
Fear stems from not knowing what is happening to us or has happened to us historically. Once we learn to understand and ultimately take control of our fear responses; we no longer fear them; because we now understand what is happening to us and have control over it.
Counselling can help you face up to your fears and challenge them. Counselling offers you a safe and confidential space to explore your worries, fears and anxieties with a professional who can help you get back control of your thoughts, feelings and learn to understand what is happening to you and how to master your responses and restore the balance and harmony in your life: free from fear.
Stress has now surpassed other forms of illness and disease in our modern world as being one of the biggest killers of humankind; with 75-90% of visits to the GP related to stress.
Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
With 1 in 4 employees admitting in a recent poll that they have taken 'mental health related' sick days from work. Stress has now been declared a hazard of the workplace; with a duty being placed on employers to address workplace stress and provide support for their employees who are experiencing stress.
Stress activates the “fight-or-flight” response in our autonomous nervous system; similar to anxiety and PTSD. This means we are subconsciously priming our body for an immediate response to a situation. The problem is that the situation our body is getting ready for may be daily or chronic; and as a result our body and mind then suffers from fatigue at being “always at the ready.” When we don’t find a way to relieve that daily stress, it builds up over time and ultimately explodes inwards and outwards.
Stress not only affects us personally in devastating ways; but it also affects our relationships with people we love and the people we work with. With anger and rage being the more common emotionally charged behaviours; which escalate as a result of not managing our stress, and often the consequence of releasing our stress in unhealthy and damaging ways can result in relationship problems and family breakdowns.
The good news is that stress can be managed in a safe and contained environment and it is something that you can learn to have control over.
Counselling can help you address your stress by giving you the time and space to explore what's going on for you and process your thoughts, feelings and underlying fears in a productive way. Your Counsellor will help you to learn new techniques to reduce the effects of stress and provide clarity over the situations which trigger your stress responses; to enable calm and a sense of order to be restored in your life.
If there's one thing that is constant and guaranteed in life; it's change.
Sooner or later we all experience a life transition. This might involve leaving school and going to university, leaving or starting a new job, becoming married/divorced or giving birth.
Life's transitions can be very challenging because these are not necessarily planned for and may be thrust upon us when we least expect it. Sometimes we can be resentful of the changes a transition creates in our lives, and we may be confused or afraid.
Transitions can involve endings as much as new beginnings, and sometimes it may be essential to find closure on certain things in our lives before we can open ourselves to new experiences.
A life transition can also mean beginning again from scratch. We may decide to resign from a job we have done for a long time because this is no longer working for us emotionally or psychologically. We may choose to move house, to move to a new area and start to make new acquaintances and friends. We may decide to end a personal relationship, starting out once again on our own.
Either way whether it's an ending or a new beginning; both can leave you with a sense of unease and can lead to feelings of anxiety, fear and or loneliness.
The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and your feelings can be worked through.
Counselling offers you the opportunity to share your feelings with a trusted professional who provides a safe and confidential space to explore those feelings without any judgement or expectations placed upon you. Thus giving you the confidence and the knowledge you need to embrace whatever life transition you are going through with a renewed sense of optimism and hope.
Most people will experience loss at some point in their lives; whether it's a physical loss like a treasured item of jewellery or a job. Or a deep sense of loss of a loved one; including pets.
Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. Whereas Bereavement is a type of grief involving the death of a loved one.
There is no real time limit to knowing when a period of grief or bereavement will end; as everyone experiences their loss differently.
Some people will experience a myriad of other feelings associated with the grief process such as; anger, sadness, hopelessness, guilt or regret. And it's not uncommon for those experiencing grief to also have underlying symptom of depression.
What does help is knowing that you can talk to someone about how you're feeling and not feel alone in your process. This is where Counselling can be really helpful; as there is someone dedicated and committed to supporting you through your process without judging you or placing any expectations on you to "get over it" so to speak.
Having a baby should feel like one of the happiest times of your life. However for many parents the weeks and months leading up to and after giving birth can be marred with an overwhelming sense of sadness, anxiety and despair.
Often, parents go through a period of exhaustion, shock and stress following the birth of their baby, and may initially feel emotional and tearful as they come to terms with such a life-changing experience.
This period of 'baby blues' is very common among new parents and usually only lasts for a few weeks. For some though, baby blues develop into a much deeper and longer-term form of depression known as postnatal depression (PND).
Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that 1 in 4 mothers experience clinical/post partum depression after childbirth and this can be exacerbated by other factors such as;
-difficulties in pregnancy and giving birth
-poverty and debt
-worry and stress
-isolation and poor transport links
-lack of emotional support
-lack of access to services
-lack of knowledge about child development and parenting
All these other factors can make new mums feel like they're at breaking point; especially with the demands that a new baby can have on the mind and the body yet alone adding all these other factors into the mix. Which is why it is no surprise that a new mother's own ability to take care of herself is severely affected and new mums may fail to adequately eat, bathe or care for themselves in other ways. This may increase the risks of ill health.
So it is no surprise that the risk of suicide is also a consideration, and in psychotic illnesses, the risk of infanticide, though rare, must be taken into consideration.
Very young infants can be affected by and are highly sensitive to the environment and the quality of care, and are likely to be affected by mothers with mental disorders as well.
Prolonged or severe mental illness hampers the mother-infant attachment, breastfeeding and infant care which can make new mothers feel like they are failing in their role; triggering those self doubts and negative beliefs.
And it's not just new mothers who suffer; new fathers also feel the effects of PND too!
With 1 in 3 new fathers stating that they also worry about their mental health; many have shared their experiences of struggling to bond with their babies, or wrestling with feelings of despair and aggression.
Then there is the inadequacy that men feel when they witness their partners own struggle with PND which then adds to that initial feeling with hopelessness and despair.
Although some symptoms – including feelings of unworthiness, sadness, anxiety, and a prolonged lowering of mood and lethargy are common in mothers and fathers; postnatal depression looks different in men.
In what way? There’s more avoidance, overworking, drinking and substance abuse. And if there were already pre-existing problems in the relationship; the demands of a new born baby on the family unit can have a devastating effect on the relationship overall.
However dark those times may feel; and I know from having my own personal struggle with PND; including my partner who also struggled with PND. The most important thing to remember is that there is hope and support available. And you can and will get through this!!
Counselling for postnatal depression provides an outlet for parents to talk about their thoughts and feelings with the help of a professional therapist.
Specialised therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy are used to help guide clients through their problems - enabling them to understand the nature of their depression and how they can change their thoughts and behaviours to reach their full potential and enjoy being a parent and having a secure and loving bond with their child.
Other counselling approaches can help clients to understand their PND in terms of their relationships or what has happened to them in the past. Above all, counselling for postnatal depression allows sufferers to feel comfortable enough to open up about their illness without feeling ashamed or judged.
Abuse is a misuse of power intended to harm or control another person; it does not discriminate; and can happen anyone including children, women, men and members of the LGBTQ+ communities; leaving a trail of devastation behind for those who survive.
Abuse can be sexual, physical, verbal, financial psychological or emotional with survivors often experiencing one or more types of abuse.
Abuse can cause emotional pain and psychological distress. Whereas Trauma relates to the psychological wounds that are harder to heal than bodily injuries such as PTSD.
Survivors of abuse and trauma may have intense, negative feelings long after the event has ended such as; anxiety, flashbacks, depression, self harm, suicidal feelings and trust issues are all common in people who have experienced abuse and trauma. And it is not uncommon for survivors of abuse and trauma to adopt unhealthy and sometimes harmful coping strategies such as addiction and other forms of risk taking behaviours to try to deal with and escape from the traumatic memories.
Abuse and trauma can impact a person’s ability to form relationships and find happiness. Yet the effects do not have to be permanent and there is hope for recovery and a life of happiness and fulfilment.
Counselling provides a safe and confidential space for you to talk about your thoughts, feelings and experiences through building a trusting relationship with your counsellor. It is a non-judgemental form of therapy where there is no expectations placed upon you to get better. It's there for you; it's consistent and it means you no longer have to feel alone in your experiences.
Counselling can help abuse and trauma survivors overcome challenges and address present or underlying symptoms; if that's what they want and feel comfortable with exploring. It can also help those who engage in harmful behaviours, such as self harm or addiction; though the individual must truly wish to engage in therapy and address their fears and abusive or traumatic experiences in order for the therapy to work effectively.
I read a really beautiful statement the other day......
"If you feel like you don't fit in to this world; it's because you were born to create a new one"
We are all fragile and we are all vulnerably unique individuals; and sometimes the world we live in is exhausting because we're constantly trying to fit in and feel accepted rather than allow our own self to be open to criticism and rejection.
Our confidence and self esteem can take a massive knock due to various factors and experiences that can leave us feeling anxious, doubtful, negative, angry, disgusted, and unworthy.
Some people develop low self-esteem in childhood. When adults harshly criticise children for mistakes, kids may internalise those messages. Adverse childhood experiences, such as child abuse or bullying, can also contribute to low self-esteem.
In adulthood, any demoralising life experience can reduce self-esteem; loss of employment, breakups, and other life transitions and changes can cause fear or self-doubt to emerge. These feelings can affect one’s self-worth, confidence, and resilience.
There are lots of factors which contribute to our sense of self and identity;
-mental health status
-race and ethnicity
-sexual/gender minority status
Once these factors are compromised, a person may be more prone to developing negative beliefs and self-talk patterns which can lead to more serious symptoms of depression and anxiety which can then spread out and affect other parts of their lives; such as school, work, relationships, friendships, and self care.
As human beings we are relational creatures and thrive in social groups; we actively seek out sources of love and belonging and sometimes this search can lead us to sacrifice our own values and identity in order to feel accepted. This can also lead us into abusive relationships due to that fundamental need to be loved and we may ignore the signals that we're being abused.
Counselling offers you a confidential space to be heard, your counsellor will offer you a safe place to voice your self-doubt without fearing any judgement or criticism. In this safe place you are able to explore the root causes of your self-doubt and consider ways to break the negative thought cycle to uncover a more confident, positive and loving view of yourself.
Professional Counselling, Trauma & Abuse Therapy, Forest & Nature Therapy, Inner-Child Therapy and other creative well-being therapies; including Commissioned Therapeutic Services, partnership working and mental health training throughout the East Midlands