Mark Widdowson, my transactional analysis psychotherapy colleague and one of most renowned European psychotherapy and counselling experts on depression, joined me (Ales Zivkovic) for an eye-opening discussion on this important and often not enough talked about topic.
Mark is a Manchester based psychotherapist and counsellor. He is one of the leading experts in the area of transactional analysis psychotherapy and a senior lecturer of psychotherapy and counselling at the University of Salford. He is also a frequent guest tutor at The Berne Institute.
As a transactional analysis psychotherapist, Mark has a history of helping people fight depression and has been involved in dealing with depression also from the research side. Coupled with his down to earth attitude, he makes a great conversation partner on the topic.
The podcast discussion kicks off by looking into differences between depression, low mood, sadness and grief. Often these feelings are intertwined but are still significantly different from one another and should be treated as such in the therapy room.
We touch on an unexplored subject of anthropological purpose of depression. Is there a reason for it and, if so, how does it contribute to individual’s wellbeing?
It appears that internal dialogue where someone is being extremely critical and demanding of themselves, along with unrealistic expectations, seems to be significant both in identification of depression, as well as its general characteristic.
My view is that identification of oneself with others and the world is one of the more important factors when assessing depression. However, according to Mark, identification is just a part of being human. We should, hence, regard it as such.
As regards identification, we also discussed the effect social media has on incidence of depression. Social media is often times, especially in the younger generation, used as a point of personal comparison, which has its effect on self-esteem and self-validation. (Related reading: Social Media Depression)
Of course, the talk about depression would not be a proper one without touching on suicide, which can also be a way of ending the pain one goes through when depressed.
With regards to treatment, psychotherapy appears to be not only effective as such, but also effective on long-term. Whereas antidepressants could be regarded as a measure of putting the client into a state when they are more responsive to psychotherapy.
We also touch on whether psychotherapy should be regarded more as a way of personal development and personal growth – hence as a preventive measure – rather than curative.