Back when I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety in 2011 to help depression, my initial treatment was 40mg of Citalopram (the highest dosage allowed) and to add me to a waiting list to see a mental health nurse (which took three months after I had been taking Citalopram).
The tablets, on the other hand, were instantly retrievable from the local pharmacist and within two or three weeks did had an improved effect on my depressive mood. Several months after taking the anti-depressants but all I was diagnosed as severely depressed by my nurse (three months to get that diagnosis ) and 4 hours of CBT.
To consider, I was in crisis, in 2011 I felt like the NHS had failed me. Tablets to cause the chemical balance in one’s brain and a few hours of therapy simply wasn’t sufficient to heal from the level of depression and anxiety I had. If it hadn’t been for my family’s support and mother’s knowledge on holistic therapy and private treatments available I may not have been here to develop this website and make a difference for people that also feel a little let down by their own health system, to consider, when I was first diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety I was also diagnosed at high risk of suicide, my treatment and waiting times were very insufficient.
In this blog post, I discuss my journey on anti-depressants and exploring different therapies to help find a cure to a disease that is often long-suffering.
Tablets stopped working for me…
When one has experienced severe depression you come to realise, putting a chemical into your body to create more endorphins in your brain can only do so much without dealing directly with the problems and thinking behind the depression in the first place. I was a very fortunate person as my mother had practised several holistic treatments for years and studied various aspects of health for a long time and why I feel fortunate, I had someone who could suggest different therapies for me to try to stop me feeling so heavy and drained all the time.
After taking the tablets for over a year I realised there was a sense of something being and that I was ‘ill’…like when you take a tablet for a cold or flu, it was the same sensation and I knew, deep down, nothing really was changing within me by having the tablet alone. I felt if I was to stop taking the tablets I would return to the deepest darkest part of my depression which of course, I didn’t want.
Whilst still taking the tablets I decided to look into private sector therapies of all types and during four years of recovery, I had tried counselling, EFT (emotional freedom technique), CBT, reiki, an exercise routine, and hypnotherapy.
Counselling wasn’t right for me
I remember when I first went to counselling and I was sitting in the comfortable chair, telling my counsellor how I felt about all my problems and negative thoughts that had started to engulf my mind it really didn’t feel natural to me. I am a typical guy, don’t particularly like talking about how I feel and plus, I didn’t particularly feel as though they were genuinely interested. It felt to me like he almost was that type of friend that just listens to what you have to say rather than solve the problem. I can see the benefits for some who just want to let their feelings off their chest, a bit like a confession in a church, but for me, I knew this wasn’t solving my problem, giving questions to what I was thinking rather than actually resolving the problem within my mind. In fact, after I had my first session of counselling it made me feel at least three times worse (please realise this was a personal experience counselling may work for you).
EFT therapy dealt with emotional connections
EFT, emotional freedom technique was a little more effective than the counselling, almost a step up from the above as I discussed the things causing me intense negative thoughts and feelings of heaviness and then, tapped meridian points on the head and body repeating certain sentences and re-wording them positively until the negative thoughts and feelings reduced on the particular topic.
Although I did feel almost instant relief and a slight lift, I don’t believe this had a long-lasting effect on finally getting to the root cause of the problems within my mind.
Help depression with CBT and trying to think differently
CBT, I could see being effective for people who don’t realise that their own thoughts and how they think about situations are the ones causing themselves grief. CBT helps you become more conscious of your own thinking and train yourself to attempt to see the best in all life experiences.
The thing with my personal depression was I already knew most of the things I was thinking sounded irrational to most people, including myself and so was always trying to turn my thinking into positive thoughts and so again, was not the thing that cured my depression as it was something I was already practising.
Exercise starting to move the depression
Being a hardcore video gamer I had a Wii and Wii fit.
My mother had always said to me…’ health is wealth’ and ‘you have nothing without your health’ and mentioned to me before how exercise can realise endorphins in the brain naturally and by combining exercise with something that used to be my hobby it could improve my mood and health.
When down in the depths of depression, anxiety and extremely low self-esteem it can be so difficult to move forward, the body feels three times heavier (at least) but I pushed myself to start using Wii fit religiously and the results…
As my mood had lowered over several years towards depression I had put on weight with my depression (around 2 to 3 stone) and within 6 months of dedicated exercise routines three times a week I lost the weight I had put on! After each hour session I was a very sweaty person, exhausted but…my mind felt happy, bright and confident! For the first time in many years, I started to feel good about myself again.
It was likely due to exercise why I started finding the motivation to do other things like learning Spanish online, meeting new people, travelling to the other side of the country for work. I believe exercise is vital for people starting to try and recover from depression, anxiety and stress alongside other treatments.
My family bought a puppy
At the same time, I began my exercise routine my family bought my younger sister a puppy. A white Westland terrier with a strong personality, he was a bit of a dude and no matter how low you felt inside looking into his little face couldn’t help but put a smile on your face. Talking to you through his eyes ‘ let’s go for a walk! let’s have an adventure! let’s go! let’s play!’, everything that we want to be as people, care-free, playful and happy is what this new dog embodied.
I often took the dog for walks three times a week. At first, I would only walk him around the local streets as I was suffering from anxiety as well as depression, but through time, the walks got further and further afield and actually made me come into contact with many people I was trying to avoid before, which also helped reduce my anxiety as nothing bad was happening unlike what anxiety makes you feel.
This dog, alongside my exercise routine, was a large part of my recovery process as I began walking him three times a day, even when my social anxiety was very high, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and into environments I would never have gone into alone otherwise thus the severity of the anxiety.
Hypnotherapy helped get to the core problem
Almost 3 years after being first diagnosed with clinically severe depression my depression had lifted a lot but my anxiety was still very high and so, I attended a hypnotherapist that had been recommended to us.
This was a most amazing experience and also, completely fascinating too!
The hypnotist explained how the process works and how, by being hypnotised, you activate the subconscious mind where we store memories and unconscious thoughts so you can continue with your day to day lives without all our thoughts interfering with one another.
The problem, quite often with many people is some of these unconscious thoughts, memories and past experiences can cause us fears, anxieties and depression until dealt with correctly or rewired to think of in a different way. After 5 sessions of hypnotherapy, I can honestly say my anxiety was greatly reduced and I felt a great response to this form of therapy.
After 5 sessions of hypnotherapy, I can honestly say my anxiety was greatly reduced and I felt that I was almost fully restored to my former self from this form of therapy.
Try different therapies rather than just rely on medication
I remember, back when I first went to my GP how much despair and lack of hope I felt waiting three months for any form of therapy and given high dosage of antidepressants, things seemed rather bleak, my life was at rock bottom, I had massive amounts of debt after university, no job opportunity and to top it off severe depression and anxiety. When I was given just four hours CBT therapy three months after being diagnosed at high risk of suicide I was angry and frustrated.
I know for sure if I hadn’t had the support of my family and a holistic therapist mother my story could have been very different. It came into my mind many others must experience the lack of support I had received, not just in the UK but worldwide and I felt a massive sense of injustice and unfairness.
As I began to take my own journey through depression and healing, trying different therapies I knew that this was important to healing from depression and that I couldn’t rely on my GP to cure my illness as they were not specialists in the field.
I decided that with my knowledge of art, IT and my experience of severe depression I wanted to create a website/tool so others can help themselves, realise others have experienced the same things and got through it and also search for different therapies regardless of where they are based in the world or their financial situation.
Different therapies work differently for everyone
I think the important message from this blog post is that to not have an expectation when going to therapy or listen too much to others experiences but to simply try things you are interested in and feel how that particular treatment effects you personally. Some will work better than others for you but it simply choosing to take the journey of discovering therapists and seeing what happens.
If we look at my journey we can see counselling and EFT were not perfect for me but, for some people, those therapies are fantastic and really do help. My personal belief is that it could be said that
My personal belief is that it could be said that all depression has underlying causes and until you discover that hidden reason it will be difficult to completely recover from a mental health condition as completely as possible and why I will always advocate hypnotherapy from an experienced and skilled professional.
Tablets are not the cure but…
Even though tablets may not be the cure to depression they do help depression in giving you some normality in order to pursue such things as therapy and exercise. You should never stop taking antidepressants without some guidance from your GP but if you are interested in looking at different therapy options and natural remedies you can visit our directory of hundreds of therapists (therapy.battleofmind.com) or ask your GP to see if they can suggest some therapy options for you to try.
There are many ways to heal from depression. Finding the right therapy and relaxation are very important parts of your journey. I hope you find the right therapy for you!
Please feel free to comment below or if you feel your treatment isn’t working as you wish to seek GP advice for further discussion about options available to you.
P.S. Never stop your medication before contacting GP and discussing it with them. This blog post is not medical advice but a lived experience shared.