Although I work with a wide variety of clients and problems, I have specific areas that interest me.
Depression: The first would most certainly be depression. It would seem to be the curse of our era. The incidence of depression before Covid was estimated to be between 10 to 20 times higher than 80 years ago. Studies in the USA indicate the prevelance of depression symptoms to be 3-fold higher after the Covid epidemic.
A major problem with depression is that it is often either socially stigmatised or not recognised for potentially how serious it is. As a result of the first, individuals shy away from diagnosis and treatment. Having been diagnosed with depression could influence work promotion and life insurance premiums. In the second case a common opinion expressed would be that we all have problems, get over it. This reaction of course represents a complete disownment of the impact depression could have on somebody's life. Depression symptoms vary widely, from mere feelings of melancholy to a completely debilitating disorder.
Depression, even very mild depression, has an effect on most of our life. It is completely pervasive. It also unfortunately alters our perception of the world and therefore of ourselves. When we suffer from a common cold, it is reasonably easily and clearly defined. A runny nose, perhaps some sneezing, a headache and not feeling well. Depression on the other hand changes the way we perceive life. Obstacles seem larger and more insurmountable. We have less zest and motivation to do things which includes surmounting obstacles. Our mood becomes pessimistic and we find less value in life and what we do. We tend to recall bleak memories and find it difficult to enjoy what we are doing. Differently from a cold, we don't necessarily have a clear idea that something is wrong other than perhaps the melancholy.
The previous paragraph mainly looked at the impact of depression on the mood and the well-being of a person. Its tentacles stretch far futher than that. Depression has a direct (negative) influence on health, achievement (academic, work and sport), it impacts on self esteem and our ability to form and sustain healthy relationships. It potentially disturbs sleep patterns, appetite and motivation. Over time this drags us down.
As a final note on the topic children and young adults are particularly vulnerable. Although one might cite a number of potential reasons, the stress of facing up to un uncertain future while at the same time either trying to establish a career or worse even, find work, is a major factor. Children on the other hand are mirrors of family stress and are particularly vulnerable because they cannot look out for themselves.
In all cases a variety of treatments are available. Medication is one course of direction and can be combined with therapy. Therapy can also be used with very good effect on its own. The main advantage of therapy is that the client learns tools to help himself or herself in the future. These techniques can be used in everyday life and one does not need to arrive at the point of admitting "I have a problem and need help". This is such a point of empowerment. Life throws it challenges without much consideration for where we are. It is up to us to exhibit resilience, to bounce back. How well we do this depends on many factors and taught techniques can form a substantial part of our resilience. It is worth investing the time and effort learn these. In the end of the day it is not only our own level of emotional well-being that is at stake, but also that of everybody close to us, including our animals.
Personal Development: We all come into life and grow up. A very large part of our character is defined by where we come from. If you came from an exemplary family (parents really) and you grew up without many disasters, count yourself as lucky. Most people come from less than perfect backgrounds. On a philosophic tone, the best person you can ever be is the authentic self. The authentic self is heavily conditioned by its background, personal, familial and cultural expectations.
It is as though the self is cloaked in many layers, some bulky, some thin. We would like to get rid of the emotional encumberment all of this brings along. This has nothing to do with rejecting our background; it is more about exercising choice as to what we deem to have value and above all to be motivated rationally in all that we do. This would allow us to move consciously where we want to go and to engage the world on our terms. To be who we really need to be.
In pursuit of this goal a number of approaches stand in good stead. What exactly, in what measure, and when depends on the individual. Briefly we would look at the techniques and processes of positive psychology, mindfulness, existential ideas, child work and identifying and working with the individual's belief systems. Extraordinary results can be achieved. We can all fly!