As indicated elsewhere, for the actual treatment of depressive illness, research to date has only been able to prove the value of Cognitive Therapy, Problem Solving Therapy, and of Interpersonal Therapy .
However, depression is the result of stress overwhelming an individual’s personal resilience or personal strength. If there are unresolved distressing emotional issues from a person’s current life, from their current relationships, or from events in their past which continue to distress them, they will always be excessively vulnerable to emotional suffering and to depressive illness. In these situations, although not yet proven by research, it would seem inescapably logical to have a reasonable amount of psychotherapy, designed to try to unravel these issues, and put them to rest mentally.
HOW DOES PSYCHOTHERAPY WORK?
How does psychotherapy work? This is an issue which has in many ways defied research for very many years. However, let me give some simple pointers.
The human brain is very good at resolving many problems, but it operates in many ways like a sophisticated computer. The human brain can only work through problems and issues if the information is presented in a way it understands. In effect, the human brain needs words to process the issues it is asked to deal with. Very many people, distressed by events that have happened or are happening to them, do not put actual words to how they feel emotionally. However, when seeing a therapist, people are obliged to put words to their emotions, and in many cases this particularly clarifies the issues involved, often for the first time. While the combination of putting words to how you feel, and having a concerned and understanding expert listener, would seem to be the best approach for such issues, some people find that writing down their thoughts on paper forces them to put words to their feelings and conflicts, with beneficial results.
Having psychotherapy is like being given an extra computer program, designed to be used as an alternative computer patch to replace the faulty bits of your internal programming. We cannot eradicate the faulty hardwired programme, but we can give you the choice of which programme to run in future difficult situations.
You learn to see things from a different perspective, and you learn a more constructive way of dealing with events and interactions with other people. However, the crucial issue for the future is whether you will count to three mentally (so to speak) in such situations, and use your new program to deal with these new events and situations, or whether you will instead react instinctively without thinking, when you will almost certainly automatically use your old and less appropriate ways of responding.
The processes and benefits of psychotherapy are summarised in the poem “Kaleidoscope”. Please note that this poem is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author, a patient of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, but the poem itself remains copyright.
Preserved in the unconscious
Embalmed with denial and withdrawal
Anointed with forgetfulness and fantasy
Replayed like an old movie
Trapped in a role no longer remembered
Finally liberated by a self-curing disease
That pushes out bits of the past
which connect with pieces of the present
to complete the picture.
Reflecting on it objectively
As though through a telescope
And when turning the lens to refocus
Watching the same bits and pieces
Fall into a new pattern
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.