Paternal Depression can be Alleviated with Psychotherapy

The Mental Well being of Babies born to Men Suffering from Post Natal Depression can be Adversely Effected, but Psychotherapy can be a Successful Intervention

Scientists at Oxford University recently undertook some research into the communications of post natally depressed fathers compared with non depressed fathers towards their newborn babies. Sufferers with depression can find communicating difficult and isolation is a common symptom.

The researchers found that those children of depressed fathers were significantly more likely to require medical intervention as babies and were much more likely to develop behavioural problems and peer relationship problems later on. This issue of paternal depression affects one in 30 newborn babies, or approximately 25,000 children every year.

However, despite these shocking figures, paternal depression is largely dismissed and attributed to a sulky self-absorbtion.

Post natal depression is recognised as affecting 10% – 30% of mothers. There is, as yet, no one specific reason for the development of PND in some mothers but not in others, but one suggestion is that it is partly triggered by hormonal changes before, during and after the birth. As men do not experience these changes as such, the argument stands that it cannot be Post Natal Depression. Terms such as ‘depression in the post natal period’ or paternal depression’ or ‘background depression in men’ are prefered by the scientists researching this phenomenon.

However, it is also thought that childhood experiences, life experiences and the expectations and fantasies about the baby and parenthood can also contribute to PND. Men can certainly experience depression after the birth of a child. This is a time of enormous change in life when much of who a person is and what he expects has to be reassessed in the light of this new responsibility. Pre existing depression may be experienced more deeply or the stress of being a father may seem overwhelming.

It is important for men in this situation to recognise that they are struggling and seek help. Researchers continue to point out that the main problem with male depression is that men do not admit to having a problem, thereby exacerbating the issue and potentially leading to self destructive behaviour, loss of employment, illness, suicide and, in the case of this article, knock on harmful effects to the mental well being of their children.

Admitting to feeling depressed after the birth of a child is an important step towards doing something to challenge these feelings. Seeing a psychotherapist or counsellor can be the next step. A psychotherapist can help explore the feelings that lie behind being a father, the worries, hopes and fears. A psychotherapist can also help you understand your own childhood better and how these experiences may be contributing to the depression.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice at 121 Harley Street, London, acknowledge that men can struggle with becoming a father and have successfully worked with men suffering from paternal depression.

Living Alone can Increase Risk of Depression. Psychotherapy can Challenge this.

Finnish Study Links Depression to Living alone

Dr. Laura Pulkki-Rabak from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health recently conducted a study that seems to demonstrate that adults of a working age who live alone are 80% more likely to resort to taking antidepressants than those living with at least one other person. The study looked at the use of antidepressants by 3500 individuals between 30 and 65 years of age followed over seven years.

The researchers acknowledge that there are some limitations to the study that cast doubt upon the simple premiss that people living alone are at a greater risk of suffering depression. The living status of the participants was not updated during the study, so it is not known whether the status changed over the seven years. It was also not recorded whether any of the participants were taking antidepressants before the start of the study, and therefore it is hard to determine whether living alone may lead to depression, or depression may lead to living alone.

The study did however, highlight a number of factors that may contribute to depression in lone livers:

For men, lack of social support led to an increased use of antidepressants. For women,  a higher probability of financial hardship led to depression and for both, living alone led to a higher level of ‘cynical hostility’.

Although this study does not give unchallengeable evidence of the link between lone living and depression, it would seem to be a logical step to suggest that a vicious cycle can be established when a person feels depressed, isolates themselves, looses confidence and thereby feels even more depressed and unable to reengage with society. With 30% of people living alone in the UK, and this set to rise to 40% by 2020, this is an issue that could potentially escalate.

Feeling isolated and isolating oneself is a recognised part of depression. It can be hard to escape this pattern of behaviour and rebuild confidence.

Psychotherapy and counselling can be a first step in breaking this cycle. Through a course of psychotherapy, the reasons for the isolation can be explored and during the psychotherapy process a greater understanding of the fears that hinder you from having a healthy social life can be uncovered and challenged.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice comprises three female psychotherapists who have extensive experience working successfully with depression. The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice can be found at 121, Harley Street, London.

Overtime Linked to Depression

Working Long Hours can Affect Mental Health

A study by researchers from Queen Mary’s College and University College of The University of London, Bristol University, McGill University in Canada and The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health examined the working habits of over 2000 UK civil servants to see whether these contributed to the development of depressive conditions. The subjects were followed for six years.

The focus was on whether overtime significantly affected the mental health of the subjects that were followed. It was found that those who worked on average an 11 hour day as opposed to colleagues who stuck to a standard 7-8 hour day were associated with a 2.5 times increase of probability of suffering a major depressive episode.

However, although this study demonstrates a link between increased work hours and the chance of suffering a major depressive episode, it had not yet been demonstrated whether the overtime alone causes depression. There are still other factors to be investigated.

The current ecconomic climate and fears asociated with loosing ones job can force people to put in longer and longer work hours, apparently to the detriment of their mental, as well as physical health.

Pursuing a course of psychotherapy can help explore these work related fears and how they may have knock on effects in other areas, such as relationships and family life. Challenging anxieties can lead to a healthier way of being and thereby ward off potential depression.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street have worked with people suffering from anxiety and depression for many years, offering a safe, confidential and professional space in which to explore your difficulties.

NICE Recommends Psychotherapy for Postnatal Mothers

According to NICE Guidelines, Mothers Suffering from Postnatal Depression Should Be Referred for Psychotherapy

A survey recently completed by 4Children found that mothers with postnatal depression are being failed by the NHS by not taking into account the international guidelines concerned with the condition.

1 in 10 new mothers suffer from postnatal depression and of those surveyed it was found that, if the condition was diagnosed at all, the greater majority were prescribed antidepressants. This contradicts the NICE guidelines that recommend counselling and psychotherapy for mild and moderate cases of postnatal depression.

The report also demonstrated the inconsistency of record keeping as far as the amount of cases of postnatal depression is concerned. Whereas some health authorities reported 1350 cases, others reported just 1.

Chief Executive of 4Children, Anne Longfield said, “It just reveals so much in terms of lack of empathy and sympathy for these people. It’s a complete disregard for their health and wellbeing…It’s seen as an everyday little personal issue. At the end of the day, no one is taking it seriously…This report shows a massive default towards antidepressants when proper care is within the gift of health professionals”.

The therapists at London’s Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice have worked with mothers suffering from postnatal depression. They provide a safe, non judgemental space for mothers struggling with all the emotions that can come with motherhood in order to explore and understand these feelings better.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice can be found at 121 Harley Street, London.

Depression Amongst Sportsmen Suggests More Recourse to Psychotherapy

A Growing Awareness of Sportsmen Struggling with Depression Suggests a Greater Need for Psychotherapy

In a documentary on the BBC last week, ‘The Hidden Side of Sport’, England cricketer Freddie Flintoff explored the depression suffered by high performing sportsmen and why, until recently, little was knows as to the extent of depression suffered amongst this demographic.

We were told that statistically, 1 in 10 sportsmen suffer depression whilst there are more suicides amongst cricketers than in any other sport.

Flintoff described experiencing “unbelievable highs and dramatic lows” during his cricketing career but often asked himself, “What’s wrong with me”, when everything seemed to be going so well, and yet he still felt low. He was winning and yet he still felt depressed.

He put on a show and gave a front of confidence that he did not feel, so that everyone on the outside thought everything was alright, until things started unravelling in 2006-2007.

“I didn’t want anyone thinking there was anything to be got at. I didn’t want people knowing I wasn’t that confident person”, “I was seen as this character who was unflappable”, so he hid behind a “happy go lucky” character.

However, he simply could not escape his feelings and drank in order to find another way of coping with how he felt, but this just exacerbated things. He said he was, “drinking to escape, change how I felt”, but depression was still there and the come down from the drinking and the behaviour during it caused him embarassment and shame; he mentioned how he felt the “disapointment people had in me”.

His fellow team player, Steve Harmison described how he felt that playing sport, throwing himself into it was an escape from his feelings, however eventually this way of avoiding what was going on for him ceased to work as he experienced hyperventiltion and panic attacks. He also mentioned that he didn’t know why he felt that way.

Boxers Barry McGuigan and Ricky Hatton also suffered from depression. They both described how all boxers doubt their ability in the ring and yet they are unable to express their fears. “Never show fear. Never show intimidation” said McGuigan.

Hatton descrided how he thought his depression was triggered by boxing. He had such a pride in boxing and in himself as a boxer, then he started to loose and he had to come to terms with that and the end of his career. The loss of his itentity as a boxer seems to have contributed to his depression.

Hatton too, as with Flintoff, turned to drink to try and resolve his feelings with similar results. He said, “Suffering from depression then add drink to it, its like a  runaway train”. Hatton tried to deal with his problems by himself, in secret, however, Barry McGuigan had a close family to whom he turned. He said that other boxers did not have this and did not wish to seek help from a counsellor or psychotherapist. Hatton backed this up by stating, it is “very very hard for a man to go to someone and say “I need help”. It’s tough”.

Vinnie Jones, another man seen to have been successful in life, described how he came very close to suicide with depression. He said, “You feel so degraded in yourself. Every bit of pride was taken out of me. Why are these people putting up with me?”. He went on to say that there was no one to turn to within sport and that depression was ignored as it was, “taken as a weakness”. Jones was fearful of how admitting to depression would affect those around him and their opinions of him.

In an interview with Piers Morgan, the ex editor described his feelings at the time towards the depression suffered by sportsmen. He thought that a person could not be depressed if they have wealth and fame. It was impossible and, “You know what, get over it…”.

It seems that his attitude was that lucky and talented people have no entitlement to depression. Fortunately, Morgan’s attitude has since changed. Matthew Syed backed this up by saying that in his opinion people assume that if you have money and fame etc then you are in a “psychological nirvna”.  However, it is the fear of this attitude in others that often stops men seeking help for depression in the form of talking therapy, such as psychotherapy or counselling. Dr. Steve Bull, a cricket team psychologist said that attitudes to depression amongst sportsmen are changing but he acknowledged that, as 10% of the population in any given year are liable to experience some form of anxiety and depression, more attention should be given to the mind as well as the body.

He too seems to support Hatton’s feelings that sportsmen are obsessed with what they do, that there is a personal identity with their sport and that it is alright when things are going well but terrible when not. However, he did not think that sport caused depression, seeming to imply that it is more the feelings about the sport and the level of participation in that activity. This could be applied to many activities.

Dr. Bull also thought that there is a greater awareness of depression in sport because of the publicity, not that this is a new phenomenon.

The above experiences of high functioning sportsmen can be applied to the experiences of many men in every walk of life. Even if life seems to tick all the positive boxes, there may still be inexplicable feelings of depression.

Identifying with one’s work so that failure is not an option can be similar to how sportmen identify with their sport. Pressure to succeed in work or private life  can add to a sense of being unable to cope. Fear of others attitudes towards depression may prevent men seeking help, such as committing to a course of psychotherapy. Fears of weakness, of social exclusion or feelings of shame may all contribute to not seeking help and support but suffering alone and ultimately may lead to self destructive behaviour, such as drinking (as with Hatton and Flintoff) or drugs. However, as Flintoff said, to “talk about my feelings was good to do”.

“Disappointments as a player I’ve tried to forget, bury my head in the sand a bit. But confronting some things, I think has helped me tackle some of my insecurities head on”.

“I think moving forward I can let go a little bit. I don’t want to have to pretend to be what I’m not. Nor do I want to play up to what everyone wants from me. I think its just time to be myself”.

The therapists at The London Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice provide a confidential therapeutic environment in which to discuss and explore difficult feeings. They provide non judgemental, open minded, professional support.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is based at 121 Harley Street, London.

BBC Interviews Psychotherapist Regarding Hidden Depression in Sport

As More Depression Suffered by Sports People Comes to Light, Psychotherapy Can Be Used to Help Alleviate it

In an interview with the BBC Breakfast team this morning, Philip Hodson, a British psychotherapist spoke of the difficulties sports men have suffering from depression. He talked of the highs and lows experienced within the sporting industry and the pressure to succeed and the devastation of not reaching expectations.

Particularly with male sportsmen he mentioned the ‘machismo’ that prevents them discussing their depression and mental health issues with others, including mental health professionals such as psychotherapists or counsellors. He also mentioned that women are twice as likely to talk about and seek help for depression than men, whereas men were three times more likely to kill themselves as a result of suffering mental health difficulties.

Feelings of shame or being unusual or weak for feeling depressed often stops men from seeking support but Hodson wished to make the point that, aside from the depression experienced by sufferers of bi-polar, everyone will suffer a depression at some point in their lives which could be related to any event experienced, for example, bereavement.

This interview took place in advance of Freddie Flinfoff’s documentary on the BBC tonight (Freddie Flintoff: Hidden Side of Sport) concerned with depression amongst leading sports people.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in London will support and work with you to look into what lies behind your depression and thereby help you gain a clarity and understanding of confusing thoughts and feelings.

Mental Health Disorders Increase in the EU but not Enough Sufferers Recieve Psychotherapy Help

More Psychotherapy is Needed in the EU

A study performed by The European Collage of Neuropsychopharmacology has revealed that 164 million people in the EU have had a mental disorder. This equates to 38% of the population and yet only a third of these have any contact with a health professional, and only 8-10% have seen a specialist.

At the top of the list of psychological and neurological problems that were investigated are anxiety disorders with 14% suffering from one or more. Depression and insomnia were also high up.

Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, one of the researchers, expands upon the figurative findings by describing a gender difference within the experience of anxiety. Whereas men become more alcohol dependent, women suffer more from depression.

The optimum age for women to be hit with depression seems to be between 16 – 42 and is thought to be linked with the increased social pressures they are feeling. Marriage, children, holding down a job and a social life all contribute to the doubling of depressive episodes amongst women since the 70’s. The increase in cases of divorce also contributes to women feeling they are not coping well or caring sufficiently for their children. Wittchen also added that marriage is bad for women but good for men.

The diagnosis time for the onset of mental health disorders is also becoming earlier. The first diagnosis of a disorder is now in a person’s teens, 90% at 18 years, whereas it used to be in a persons 20’s. Encouragingly, Wittchen claims that most disorders diagnosed early can be treated well, mostly with psychotherapy or counselling, sometimes with the help of medication. However, he also says that psychological disorders are woefully underfunded in the EU and that people are suffering as a result.

Psychotherapy and counselling is an important step in taking control of feelings of depression and anxiety by exploring the roots of these issues. The professional psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in London can help with this exploration and work with you to help spot patterns of behaviour and thinking that may perpetuate low feelings and hamper healthy mental development.

Alpha Male Depression and Suicide

The Alpha male affected by depression will often hide his symptoms, fearing that they will appear ‘weak’ by their colleagues, families and friends. The need to remain at the top of the pile is so ingrained in the Alpha male, that to look for help is shaming. The recent suicide of Gary Speed, hugely successful player turned manager, came as an enormous shock to his family, friends and football fans. Only the evening before his death, he appeared on national television, apparently relaxed, focused and in control. Hours later he hanged himself. If we are to learn anything from this tragic suicide, it is that men have an enormous capacity not to express, or share, their vulnerabilities but instead are often  able to hide overwhelming feelings behind a veneer of joviality and success.

Sadness and low mood are not the only indicators of depression and, to the untrained eye, depression is not always easy to spot, especially among men. Classic symptoms of male depression include anger, irritability and excessive risk taking with sex, alcohol, drugs, work or dangerous sports. At worst, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings – 80% of suicides are related to depression. Suicidal thoughts and feelings should be an indicator that help is needed, immediately. Psychotherapy and counselling can be a helpful deterrent to suicide, often in combination with medication.

Entering  counselling or psychotherapy can help the depressed man discover the roots of his depression and offer an outlet for expressing the feelings that are so hard to share with others. In psychotherapy and counselling at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice, no one is judged. The individual will be heard with empathy, intelligence and discretion. At The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice, the counsellors/psychotherapists work closely with Harley Street General Practitioners and Psychiatrists so can refer, within the same day, for medication, where appropriate.

Getting help for your depression through psychotherapy and counselling can make a huge difference in your life.

Tragic Loss Sheds Light on a Need for Psychotherapy and Counselling as an Intervention

Psychotherapy and Counselling can be a Vital Intervention when Life Feels Overwhelming

The recent tragic suicide of the footballer and former Wales manager, Gary Speed highlights again the growing problem of hidden depression, particularly amongst men.

Although it is not yet known whether Mr. Speed suffered from depression, it seems hard to imagine that he was not suffering from some form of mental stress for him to have taken such a course of action. This thinking is supported by the PFA who have reissued a booklet offering advice and support regarding depression to 50,000 former players. This booklet was initially issued after the deaths of footballers Dale Roberts and Robert Enke.

The over riding reaction to the news of Mr. Speed’s passing from the people who knew him seems to be that of complete shock that there was anything wrong that could have lead to him taking his own life, in fact, quite the opposite. He is reported to have given no signs of what he was thinking and was planning his future career.

Men have traditionally found it hard to seek help from others when the issue is one of mental health, made all the more difficult when working in a male dominated environment. Talking of stress, anxiety and fears may be perceived as being weak and consequently not being up to the job.

Clarke Carlisle, The Burnley defender, believes that the fear of being ‘outed’ by the media causes players to bury their feelings of depression and not address them. He said, ‘Unsurprisingly players known for physical fitness rarely talk about mental distress. Indeed many may not recognise what it is to know or how to seek help for stress, anxiety or depression when it strikes”.

This attitude towards mental distress seems to be repeated throughout many different and varied work places where sufferers feel they cannot turn to their family and friends and either do not know or feel unable to seek help and support from professionals such as psychotherapists or counsellors.

However, working with a professional psychotherapist or counsellor gives the opportunity to explore emotional issues that are being battled with. They can offer a safe, confidential, non judgemental environment, separate from the other areas of life. Seeking support from a psychotherapist or counsellor is an important step forward in looking at and learning to cope with emotional difficulties before they feel overwhelming and hopeless.

The Psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice at 121 Harley Street, London, have many years experience successfully working with mental stress and depression.

Different Genders, Different Reaction to Anxiety

Psychotherapy is an Effective Treatment for Anxiety in Both Genders

In a study looking into the prevalence by gender of different types of common mental illnesses and published in the America Psychological Association’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology, researchers found that women with anxiety disorders are more likely to internalise their emotions, which typically results in, “withdrawal, loneliness and depression”. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to externalise their emotions. This can lead to “aggressive, impulsive, coercive and noncompliant behaviour”. With this study the researchers were able to demonstrate that the difference in the way men and women internalise and externalise their reactions to difficult, anxiety provoking situations can account for gender differences in prevalence rates of many mental disorders.

The research took into account age and ethnicity as well as gender.

Lead author Nicholas R. Eaton, MA, of the University of Minnesota said that women may suffer depression more than men because they “ruminate more frequently than men, focusing repetitively on their negative emotions and problems rather than engaging in more active problem solving”.

Research has also indicated that women report more stressful life events before the onset of a disorder than men do, indicating that environmental stressors may also contribute to women’s internalising of their difficulties.

Exploring triggers that can lead to externalising or internalising behaviour patterns with a professional psychotherapist is an important step in understanding anxiety and preventing the development of more clinically significant depression.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on Harley Street in Central London, can help with this exploration and have many years of experience working with anxiety and depression.