We have seen from other articles published on this site that those who have experienced severe and protracted childhood trauma are, as adults, at an elevated risk of suffering from depression. We have also seen how hypnotherapy can benefit trauma survivors (in fact, research has shown that those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are, overall, more responsive to hypnotherapy than is the average person).
Depression And How People Think:
Those who are depressed tend to be, quite understandably, self-focused and self-absorbed, not least because they are in a great deal of mental anguish and turmoil (just as anyone suffering from an excruciating toothache will inevitably be self-focused and self-absorbed). This is why it is unfair to accuse those who experience this extremely serious condition as ‘choosing’ to be ‘selfish’.
Another very common feature of depression is that it causes the person who is suffering from it to (falsely) believe that there is no hope of recovery.
A third hallmark of depressive thinking is that the afflicted individual tends to be extremely focused on the past, as opposed to on the present or the future.
Fourth. depressive thinking tends to be ‘ruminative’ as opposed to ‘experiential’.
Ruminative thinking is generalized and abstract and involves dwelling on distressing matters; depressive rumination has been defined as ‘thoughts that focus one’s attention on one’s depressive symptoms and their implications’ (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991). It is also decontextualized and self-evaluative. Such rumination has been found to be a major contributory factor to the onset of depression and its maintenance.
‘Experiential’ thinking, on the other hand, is specific to a current task being undertaken.
Traditionally, ‘rumination’ has been regarded as a negative style of thinking, whereas ‘experiential’ thinking has been regarded as positive. Herman et al., 2008 suggested that the tendency to over-generalize when indulging in ruminative thinking (e.g. by thinking things like: ‘I’ve never done anything right in my entire life’, or. ‘everybody has always hated me and always will’) is the strongest predictor of the severity and duration of depression, as well as of the likelihood of relapse; in other words, the more prone one is to ruminative-style thinking, the worse, and longer-lasting, one’s depression is likely to be; furthermore, the greater one’s chances of relapsing after recovery are likely to be.
It is important, then, that we attempt to adopt a far more ‘experiential style of thinking and keep to a minimum our negative, ruminating-style thinking if we wish to reduce our feelings of depression or to prevent ourselves from relapsing into further depressive episodes.
HOW HYPNOTHERAPY CAN HELP:
Hypnotherapy can :
- encourage us to think ‘experientially’ e.g by thinking about and planning achievable tasks and goals as well as motivating us to carry out such tasks
- focus on the present and future rather than on the past
- help us to feel more positive
- reduce distressing, intrusive thoughts
- help us to reduce dysfunctional, generalized thinking
- reduce self-criticism
- reduce the judgmental, internal dialogues we have with ourselves
- increase our ability to recall traumatic memories without attributing to them self-blame
- increase our ability to change our thinking style from ‘ruminative’ to ‘experiential.’
- calm the brain’s amygdala which, in turn, puts us in a much better position to resolve traumatic events from the past.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).