In today’s world it is challenging to remain positive and upbeat, although a few individuals seem to be able to achieve this, or we know people like this. For the rest of us, it is probably more usual to have periods when we don’t feel 100%, or we feel a little down. Often this goes away and after a while we carry on with our lives. But sometimes these feelings can stay with us and over time lead to more sustained periods of feeling down which we find hard to shake.

What does depression look like?. Well at first sight depression can look like miserableness, a loss of energy and a lack of motivation. There may be loss of enjoyment in activities previously enjoyed, a feeling as if there is no meaning to life, negative thinking, poor health as we are not looking after ourselves, disturbed sleep, poor appetite or loss of interest in sex.

Our experience may also include some version of the sensation of feeling overwhelmed or submerged that manifests itself in unique ways; such a physical sensation in the head of feeling as if we are under water, snowed under or pushed under something.


There is no one cause of depression. Each aspect can be due to different causative factors. If we have been medically diagnosed, then all these factors will fall under the one label “depression”.

Depression can occur for a variety of reasons and the triggers differ for each person. It may be the result of unfinished business or the outfall of a situation or a crisis which appeared at the time to be impossible to manage (See the Stress Scale below). It can also result from a kind of “learned helplessness” or the un-grieved loss of an early separation. A downward spiral can follow when successive difficulties compound the situation.


In 1967, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale which ranks life events by the degree to which it is likely that they will causes us stress. Here are the top 20 of the 43 life events they included in the scale with a stress ranking next to each.

  • Death of spouse (100)
  • Divorce (73)
  • Marital separation (65)
  • Prison term (63)
  • Death of close family member (63)
  • Personal injury or illness (53)
  • Marriage (50)
  • Fired at work (47)
  • Marital reconciliation (45)
  • Retirement (45)
  • Change in health of family member (44)
  • Pregnancy (40)
  • Sex difficulties (39)
  • Gain of new family member (39)
  • Business readjustment (39)
  • Change in financial state (38)
  • Death of close friend (37)
  • Change to a different line of work (36)
  • Change in number of arguments with spouse (35)
  • A large mortgage or loan (31)

It is possible that any number of the above on their own, or in combination, could lead to us feeling that things had become too overwhelming. Or it may that there has been some particular persistent difficulty not on this list that has been experienced as unmanageable in some way, but which has never been fully dealt with.

The risk of becoming depressed can be higher if we tend towards being overly self-critical, or find ourselves sensitive to public opinion, have low self-esteem, or have a family history of depression. Today’s world of social media can put additional pressure on people to live up to artificial ideals. The postnatal depression that surfaces after a woman has given birth is due to hormonal changes and the added responsibility of new life. Loneliness (see Loneliness page) can increase the risk of depression as can substances which alter the chemistry of the brain such as alcohol or cannabis. Other causes include illness, head injury and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)


The approach used for working with depression is to unpack the box labelled “depression” and separate out the component parts so that we can work towards a more sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of what it is that is actually happening to us as individuals. The aim is to raise our awareness and understanding of how we experience life by focusing in on our feelings and what is happening with our body. Therapy supports us to find expression, lessen the pressures bearing upon us and address what it is that may have previously been experienced as unmanageable. It can support us in living with and managing the feelings associated with depression.


"She is a very calming, understanding and nonjudgmental person and it is so nice to have the space she creates each week to go to where I can feel"
accepted and supported

Client J

"Jane helped me learn more about myself and to find a self-compassion that helped me in my relationship with myself and others"

Client C

"Jane helped me to understand my own feelings and how I could deal with them"

Client N

"I've been attending sessions with Jane on and off for a few years now and I have found her to be really supportive and helpful during this time"

Client J

"She always makes me feel comfortable enough to speak openly in our sessions"

Client N

"Jane helped me through some very tough times and her compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude has allowed me to feel more comfortable in myself when I'm out in the world"

Client J


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