Frequently Asked Questions at Warley Counselling Brentwood
Q I have been feeling a bit low over the last few months, is it Depression?
This is a question I am often asked. My answer is even if your not sure, please go and talk to your doctor. Depression is really widespread, and many people suffer from it at some point in their lives. The longer people leave it, the harder it can be to treat. Common symptoms are things like sleep difficulties, either sleeping a lot more, or a lot less, also changes in eating patterns, either eating a lot more or less. Many people will feel very tired and lacking in energy, even after waking. Other symptoms include withdrawing from friends and family, and not being able to shake the low mood off, even when doing something that before would have been a real source of pleasure. The NHS does a page called Mood Zone which also provides help and advice. If you have read this and think yes this is me then the next step is to contact your doctor who will make a proper diagnosis.
Q I am on anti-depressants, surely I don't need to do counselling as well?
Counselling and anti depressants serve different functions in helping people manage depression and mental illness. Medication is important in helping people manage symptoms, and often enables them to function normally, so that they can get on with their lives. Counselling and therapy is about enabling people to understand themselves and others better, so that they can realize what has triggered the depression, and are supported in hopefully making the long term changes needed to ensure their better mental health.
Q I do sometimes feel quite low and stressed, but on the whole I think that I am fine. Is there anything I can do that will really help me avoid having more serious problems in future?
I think this is a really important question, because making sure that people have the information they need in order to help them avoid developing mental health problems is an area that doesn't seem to be talked about much. Truthfully there are never going to be any guarantees, in the same way there aren't with looking after physical health, however there are a lot of things that people can do to help themselves. Developing good habits around sleeping, eating and excercise is helpful for more than just physical health. Working on good sleep habits and getting good quality rest is really important. Screens can stimulate the brain so making sure that these are turned off at least half an hour before going to sleep is helpful. Excercise generates natural endorphins which are the brain's own anti depressants, so getting out for a walk, running, dancing or doing anything that you enjoy that helps you move more, provides real benefit. Watching your alcohol consumption: lots of people find a drink relaxing, but although alcohol works with our brain chemistry to initially relax us, it then acts as a depressor, which can highlight any negative feelings that the drinker may have. There are quite a few other things as well, but hopefully there are some ideas here to help you get started.
Q I think my partner and I need couples counselling to help us sort out our problems, but my partner won't come, what would you suggest?
The first thing that I would suggest is to talk to your partner about what couples counselling might include. I find that for many people who are reluctant to come, it's often that fear of the unknown, and fear of being judged. A lot of early couples work is about mediation with both partners having the chance to have their say. It's also important that they know that it is non judgmental. Sometimes when the reluctant partner understands that, it encourages them to at least try it and see.
Q If I really can't persuade them to come is it worth me coming on my own?
Yes it is. Whenever something happens between you and your partner there are two sides to it. In therapy you can explore those patterns of behaviour and learn to understand yourself and the other person better. As you do this you are quite likely to feel and think differently. As a result of this you will make different choices in how you behave, and as you behave differently it opens the way for the other person to behave differently too.