Over the last fourteen years I have worked with a number of clients who believe themselves to be suffering from depression – as if it were an illness like cancer or heart disease. Depression is not an illness, it is a construct of the subconscious mind, a product of an ongoing addiction to useless thought and, although its effects are very, very real in people’s minds, depression is an illusion.

By pure chance, I bumped into Dr. Peter Breggin in Dublin about two years ago. The New York based, world renowned psychiatrist was in Dublin assisting with the promotion of a book by Drs. Michael Corry and Aine Tubridy entitled ‘Depression – an Emotion not an Illness’. On the day in question, they were presenting their perspective on depression to a representative group of senior psychiatrists and the Irish Minister for Health. Having worked with people who suffer from depression, I can fully appreciate the layout of the doctors’ book – it is organized in chapters under a variety of headings which include bullying, sexual abuse and post traumatic stress disorder. You might wonder what subjects like this have to do with depression. The answer is simple – they are the root cause.

Whilst it is my intention to cover these specific areas – together with subjects such as fear, panic and suicide – and their effects in detail in further articles, the main point that I want to make here is that depression is a reaction. To quote Breggin directly ‘depression is not a hardware problem, it is a software problem’. In other words, it is our thoughts and thought processes that create depression – not something that is fundamentally wrong with the machine. As such, pouring drugs into the sufferer may dampen down the symptoms but it will not treat or deal with the root cause. Breggin asked a small group of eminent psychiatrists – I was privileged to be present – how you would react if, having a problem with your PC, you wandered down to your local PC expert who, having taken the box from you, turned it on its side and poured a carton of yoghurt into the PC’s cooling vent! Obviously, you’d be horrified – you’d run out of his workshop as fast as your feet would take you. But his analogy was striking and simple – pouring drugs into people that are thinking the wrong thoughts is, at the very least unhelpful.

What is worse is the growing trend towards electric shock therapy – having fallen into disrepute, the prescription of this treatment is again on the increase. On enquiring of Breggin how this dangerous treatment is supposed to work, I was informed that the electric shock is designed to kill the dysfunctional brain cells! How does it know? I have had clients who, in the past, had been subjected to this abuse, the net result being that they had become calmer – not through any miracle cure, but through a greater level of docility and resignation. I am aware of sufferers of depression committing suicide following such treatment just as I am aware of a statistically significant increase in the suicide rate of sufferers who had been prescribed certain drugs during advanced clinical trials – their deaths were quietly left out of the documentation as presented to the FDA in the US.

My point in delving into these murky waters is to try to encourage you, should you perceive yourself to be suffering from depression, to look in the opposite direction. Don’t look outwards for help, look inwards. As I said, depression is a reaction. The subconscious is an expert in the art of reaction – the normal subconscious spends all of the normal person’s adult life reacting not to what is going on but what it thinks is going on. Let me explain. If I were abused as a child, that abuse would have been indelibly impressed upon my subconscious – I would have been conditioned to, at the very least, feel bad about myself. I would have learned to feel, perhaps worthless or guilty. However, as I became an adult, my subconscious stopped learning. It’s the same for everybody but, in my case, I would be carrying very heavy childhood baggage – baggage from which there is no escape because the normal adult subconscious dwells in the past – it is my childhood experiences that create my daily adult reactive behavior. The result of carrying this baggage will manifest itself differently for different people. Some will turn into abusers themselves, some will exhibit apparently unrelated forms of inappropriate behavior, some will withdraw from reality and become depressed.

I give this an example to illustrate that depression has a psychological cause – even clinical or chemical depression, although I will deal with this separately. Drugging yourself up to the eyeballs won’t cure the cause – only you can. Whilst most of my clients are normal healthy people, all of my clients receive similar advice. If you want to live your life free from whatever you perceive is holding you back, you have to recondition your subconscious – the part of your mind that was conditioned, generally speaking, during your formative years. This can only be done by you – you may need help and support and quite a lot of it – but, at the end of the day the only person who can be responsible for your own state of mind is you.

In order to recondition your subconscious, you have to learn how to access it. In my view, this is best done through a daily program of meditation – there are other methods that I have used but I believe meditation to be most powerful. If you are suffering from chronic or deep depression, your initial foray into meditation should be guided – obviously by someone who knows what they’re doing and why you’re doing it. If you have lived with depression for most of your adult life, the road may well be a long one – but it’s a road that arrives at a wonderful destination of clarity of mind, peace, contentment and happiness.

About the Author

Willie Horton has been a Personal Development expert since 1996 – working with top leaders in major organizations. An Irish ex-accountant, ex-banker, published author and keynote speaker, he travels the world, from his home in the French Alps, enabling people “live the dream”. All his work – including his acclaimed Personal Development Workshop – is now online at http://www.gurdy.net