What does it mean “to be depressed”?
A lot of us don’t even question the meaning of “depression”, as we may know somebody who feels depressed.
What is the cure for depression? What is the solution?
In my coaching practice I came across clients with depression. Due to the confidentiality of coaching I can’t give specific details, but describe one case here.
Once a young woman asked to meet me. On the day of her appointment I could see her arrival out of the window of my office, she was visibly upset, crying on her mum’s shoulder. Still she bravely entered my office alone, allowing her mum to drive off. She needed help. Her GP gave her a choice – prescribing anti-depressants or suggested she might try coaching. In her own words “her world was falling apart” and here she was desperate to do something about it.
She decided to give the coaching route a try as she wanted her life to be interesting, fulfilled and colourful. With the coaching strategy we made depression a force to implement changes in her life.*
Since then I discussed the issue of addressing depression using coaching with two of my friends, who are both GPs with extensive experience, and asked them to express their opinions on the matter.
The first one Cathy (not real name), who worked in the UK and in Europe, said: ‘ if patients come for help and in bad shape, we must do something. We know that often anti-depressants are not a solution and that coaching would be more beneficial, but clients either don’t know much about coaching, or can not finance it or just want an easy and quick fix.’
My other friend Margaret (not real name) was also very interested in the addressing depression with coaching, since she observed some counselling with a few of her patients. She was not sure how it worked since the counsellor she observed was giving advice, such as ‘to collect daily strawberries – positives’. So Margaret asked me more about my coaching methods to clarify how to use them with depressed patients. She was keen to introduce more coaching into her practice (again she works in the UK and Europe). We discussed that with coaching the patient becomes in charge of his or her own recovery. The coaching process is a major shift of the controlling role from the doctor, or whoever was supposed to be responsible to the person himself or herself. The moment the coach poses the question – What do you want instead of this problem? – the client starts thinking about possibilities. As the coaching conversation develops, we together with the client move to the action plan. It might be quite basic at the start – the vital point is that the shift develops the idea that your life changes are under your control.
The results were rewarding – the main outcome was that this amazing young woman was able to put her life not just on track, but the way she designed and improved the painful parts of it without any prescribed anti-depressants.
Assessing current challenges or problems in life, identifying them out of the overall gloom, as my depressed client did, make them definite and clear. A client learns where the roots of the pain are. It is always connected with personal values, resolving them and moving forward is bound to be connected with personal values as well.
The battle from depression is not easy, there are different approaches to combat it and, in my experience, coaching is one of them.
If you are depressed and anxious, you are a human being with unmet needs, as Johann Hari said in his book “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes for Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions”. In the modern world when we lose connections, are not fulfilled, or not loved, we feel anxious. On a chemical level if the human body does not produce enough serotonin, it is deficiency which affects the state of mind.
The challenging thing is to find your own antidepressant – finding the way to solve the problem that was causing depression in the first place.
That is exactly the way we work through coaching. Helping a client to be aware of what is missing, addressing painful issues, not suppressing them, making them congruent with client’s values and putting all those factors into proper systematic action plan requires work, time, attention.
If all the creative coaching work can shift the depressed state, you get realisation what is in your control. It is the way up and forward.
*not talking about clinical depression
If you need coaching to address your issues, contact me: email@example.com
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