Working through Depression

Sanjit (not his real name) of Leicester was referred to me by his daughter. She felt her dad might be depressed as he was often argumentative, causing her mother much unhappiness, and doing little but staying indoors watching TV. She reported that he had not worked since having to leave work through no fault of his own.

At his consultation Sanjit presented as low in mood, tearful, showing little variation in facial expression. He did not smile, and the focus of his conversation was on terrible events from his past, with a focus on having lost his job, and not knowing how things could ever improve. He expressed a wish that the work I would do with him would make a difference. His wife reported that he often spoke in his sleep, mentioning negative topics. He reported that the last time he felt happy was during his life before losing his employment. He could not recall any memorable positive memories since that time.

During our first session I employed a technique that is sometimes used for clearing the effects of post traumatic stress disorder, as it is very effective for reducing negative affect on past traumatic memories - which in my experience often underlie depressive disorder. We used this process, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) on the events leading up to Sanjit losing his job, and then on losing his job itself. This last event was the biggest significant emotional event we worked on that session. Even just recalling it instantly brought Sanjit to tears and he was unable to talk about it. We used an additional technique from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) known as V-K dissociation to assist Sanjit in clearing the trauma of this memory.

Afterwards (the session was an hour and a half long) Sanjit reported feeling somewhat lighter and more relaxed and found it much harder to feel upset and depressed when thinking about those memories.

In the second session I tested the previous session's work and found that Sanjit was significantly less affected by the negative memories. He reported that he had stopped dwelling on them. We then began to work on his self image, which was very negative. He did not see himself as someone who could find work and sustain it, even though he had done this successfully in the past, prior to the aforementioned negative memories. Building up his self esteem using NLP, Sanjit found this difficult as he had no vision of the future. In his mind the future was literally black. We finished off the session with a hypnotic induction where I began to build in a vision of the future with Sanjit. At the end of this session he reported feeling that everything had got brighter and clearer.

In the third session I guided Sanjit to mentally rehearse getting a job until he began to feel confident about his ability to do this, then took him through another hypnotic induction to increase laughter and perspective in his attitude. By the end of this session Sanjit had begun to look significantly more relaxed and less stressed, his face happier and smiling often, making jokes.

During the last session I helped Sanjit to put some goals into his projected future, as well as give him some strategies using a process called anchoring to lessen the remaining anger he reported sometimes when out with his wife, eg when shopping. This anger was significantly less intense and shorter lived than it had been only a couple of weeks before, but was still niggling. I also taught Sanjit how to trigger positive emotions quickly and easily whenever he needed them, and built up his self image in the situations where he still occasionally had some anger (he had still felt weak in those situations, when we examined it closely).

At the last session, Sanjit reported that he felt happier, more relaxed, ready to find work after Christmas, and enjoying many more aspects of his life again. His wife reported that he was happier, did more things spontaneously including suggesting going shopping together - which he had been disliking, only going out reluctantly, and wanting to return home as soon as possible. She also reported that he had stopped talking in his sleep.

The processes I used are the standard ones I use with people who are depressed. I have seen Sanjit move from showing depressive behaviours and thought processes (continual dwelling on the past, teary and weak, low self esteem, no vision or hope for the future) to finally being relaxed and happy again. It seems like the event of losing his job crystallised Sanjit's depression, and when this event was cleared of negative associations, Sanjit immediately showed improvement in his mood. The remaining work was about rebuilding the self esteem and vision of the future that this depression had caused.

Submitted by Stefan Dziewanowski, Professional Member

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