DEPRESSION

Touch Into Calm

LA and Orange County Body Centered Psychotherapy
Therapy for Stress, Trauma, Depression, Relationship Issues
Adults, Children, and Family

Depression

A diagnosis of depression can be difficult to understand because other illness may be the cause or a consequence of depression.  Often there are co-occurring issues that must be treated, and Body Centered Psychotherapy may become part of a comprehensive team approach to treatment.

There are a number of different forms of depression as well, including:
  • Major depression, which interferes with one's ability to enjoy your life  
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder, which is pervasive and lasts for a period of at least two years  
  • Psychotic depression, which occurs when one has a break with reality and/or experiences hallucinations 
  • Postpartum depression, which occurs with the onset of childbirth in some women 
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which occurs over the winter months and 
  • Bipolar disorder, which is characterized by cycling mood changes from extreme highs to extreme lows 
The source of depression is sometimes linked to other medical illnesses, either as a result of the diagnosis or as a side-effect of medication.  Medical issues often accompanying depression include:
  • Serious medical issues including: Cancer, heart disease, stroke and HIV/AIDS, etc. 
  • Chronic long-term medical conditions including: Diabetes, Parkinson's 
  • Anxiety disorders often co-exist with depression as well. These disorders can include: 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) 
  • Social anxiety or phobias 
  • Panic disorder 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
When depression manifests in combination with trauma, stress or anxiety, it is often feels like being stuck in a freeze or shutdown response.  When the high activation levels of trauma, stress, and anxiety become too overwhelming to contain, our brain sends a message to our body to go into a self-protective shutdown.  This often manifests in depression, with feelings of being numb, of feeling disconnected from our bodies, and of being dissociated from the events going on in our life.  We check out.  We’re only half there, because being fully there, would be too overwhelming to our system.  

Two things often happen with trauma related depression.  One is that depression often vacillates with anxiety and high stress states as our bodies attempt to come out of the self-protective shutdown response.  As we come out of a protective ‘freeze’ response not prepared to deal with the high stress patterns that underlie the depression, we will become easily overwhelmed again and retreat into depression once more.  At times we seem to have both high and low states occurring at the same time, which is commonly referred to as having one foot on the gas pedal and the other foot on the brake.  If these patterns of functioning persist for months or years, our bodies pay the price.  Alcohol and substance dependence, eating disorders, cutting, and other self-destructive behaviors manifest as we seek relief from our suffering.  Due to prolonged high stress/depression states, the body becomes depleted and damaged after having excreted high levels of cortisol, adrenaline and a myriad of other stress related body chemicals over a long period of time.  Hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, heart disease, migraines, autoimmune deficiencies, etc., begin to manifest in adulthood, and especially by middle age. 

A Body Centered approach to healing that includes building safety, self-regulation skills, increased resilience; allowing discharge of bound stress, as well as completing prior threat responses; and healing attachment ruptures, will all help the nervous system to calm.  This is where Safe Touch can be so beneficial to those who are receptive as it deepens the process where words and language are not sufficient.  After all, touch is the first mode of communication between caregiver and baby.  Without touch as a baby we would not survive.

Women and Depression

Women suffer more acutely from depression, than men.  Biological issues through the life cycle and other psychosocial factors are contributing factors to this, with hormones directly affecting a woman's mood and emotions, making them particularly vulnerable.

Life events, such as those below with accompanying decrease in estrogen and other hormones, may affect brain chemistry and contribute to the overall higher rate of depression for women, including:
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD); a severe form of PMS 
  • Childbirth 
  • Postpartum depression 
  • Transition to menopause, including perimenopause 
  • Osteoporosis (bone thinning or loss) in later years has recently been linked to depression 
  • In addition to biological issues specific to women, there are psychosocial influences to the overall higher rate of depression for women, including: 
  • Stress of balancing home and career responsibilities 
  • Caring for children and aging parents at the same time; particularly the "Sandwich Generation" 
  • Domestic abuse and relationship difficulties 
  • Financial strain and poverty 
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