Body and Mind

Depression is More than Biology

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sad man
by Jane Williams, Clinical Director


There is more than one type of depression and these range in severity. Some forms of depression are more biological (endogenous) than circumstantial. Biological depression needs to be treated with a range of treatments including medication. Circumstantial depression on the other hand, relates to what has happened and what is happening in your life, with professional understanding and support required in these cases.


The following are contributing issues to becoming depressed:-


  • Exhaustion and adrenal overload which comes from lack of self-care.


  • Lifestyle factors- quality of diet and how much you exercise. Fluctuating energy levels caused by high sugar and high-carb diets. Lack of doing the things that we enjoy doing. Our brain needs a healthy diet to make serotonin (the happy hormone) and pleasure to feel good.


  • Incongruity between your deepest values and the way you spend your time which can lead to subsequent feelings of purposelessness and meaninglessness.


  • Powerlessness resulting from repressed expression of needs, repressed anger, passive communication styles, pleasing others without the corresponding ability to self-orient and meet one’s own needs.


  • Feeling compromised. You can’t commit your life’s energy to a compromise. You need to establish what you want.


  • Long-term relationship difficulties and needs not being met.


  • Lack of love and intimacy and the development of intimate relationships and friendships.


  • Unresolved trauma and PTSD and related anxiety symptoms that go untreated.


  • Narcissistic pursuits – filling inner emptiness from the outside with substances, entertainment, sex, work etc. Disregard for the development of a spiritual life.


  • Long standing unresolved shame and self-worth issues usually from childhood experiences.


  • Unresolved grief and loss issues. This includes loss of loved ones, loss of meaningful work, loss of meaning in life and so on.


The above issues which most people with depression experience, CANNOT be treated with medication alone. These issues require exploration, recognition and professional support to work through, and new strategies need to be developed to deal with them differently and more constructively.


At the Sanctuary we approach depression from all aspects. We have an excellent approach to diet and nutrition which supports the brain and body in being able to make more serotonin- the body’s natural anti-depressant. We have personal training to move the body and mind out of ‘stuckness’ and to  help the body produce its own bliss hormones. We have yoga and meditation to assist the body in learning to relax and develop a mindful approach to emotional and mood states which allows distance and detachment from depressed states. We use acupuncture, shiatsu and massage to help support the body, nurture it and move energy around the body out of stagnation. Most importantly we have intensive psychotherapy (at least four sessions a week) which utilises a combination of therapeutic techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, experiential therapies such as Voice Dialogue and Gestalt therapy and a framework which understands how the past can shape our present and future. We are very aware at The Sanctuary that depression requires a holistic approach that recognises the interaction between mind, body and spirit.


Despite what we hear about revolutions in medication, there is no simple solution or magic pill for depression, the causes of which can never be merely relegated to biology. After all, we are not mere bodies but instead, a complex aggregation of thoughts, ideas, experiences, biology and emotions.  Depression is not only biological, but also existential.  Depression affects all aspects of being and as such requires to be addressed at multiple levels.




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