It has been estimated that chronic depression costs an individual over £100 000 over their lifetime in lost opportunities and time off sick … and that’s just an average.
But the human cost is much worse.
People who have repeated bouts of depression suffer due to the failure to maintain meaningful relationships and careers.
For some people with chronic depression, it even takes their life.
There are many effective treatments for depression these days, including medical and psychological.
Many of these treatments should be tried for people with chronic depression.
From a psychological point of view, standard cognitive behavioural therapy and a variant, mindfulness based cognitive therapy for depression, have been shown to be effective and prevent relapse.
However, there is a hardcore of clients for whom no treatment seems to work.
‘Treatment resistant depression’, as it is unfortunately called, sounds like a life sentence!
Fortunately treatment resistant depression is getting more attention, and new treatments are being developed.
One particularly promising approach, paradoxically, doesn’t see depression as the primary cause, but rather a symptom of something else.
This approach to treatment resistant chronic depression suggests that for some people they over regulate their emotions, and as a consequence keep their emotions to themselves.
Interestingly research suggests that people who control their emotions are not trusted as much by other people, and as a consequence, are less popular.
This is why people with chronic depression often feel they are socially ostracised.
The lack of social support leads to a lifetime of chronic depression as a consequence.
This approach to chronic depression involves tackling the root cause: the emotional overregulation of emotion.
Another approach, called schema psychotherapy, looks at the ‘core beliefs’ we initially formed as children.
These beliefs usually follow us into adulthood, where they continually trip us up unless we identify, and change them.
People with chronic depression often have unhelpful ‘core beliefs’, and can benefit from schema psychotherapy.
As a psychotherapist I am extremely interested in chronic depression, not least because I have overcome it myself.
You can read about some of my experiences in my book: ‘The Enlightenment Plan’.
I am also always on the look out for new and novel ways to help my clients, particularly those that have struggled to find effective help so far.
If you are suffering from chronic depression, I would be happy to hear from you.