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  • Writer's pictureMyriame Lyons

Dealing with Depression: Changing Feelings with Emotionally Focused Therapies

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

Depression is depressing.

As a counsellor in Vancouver, I work with many folks who are struggling to deal with this mood change.

"About 11% of men and 16% of women in Canada will experience major depression in the course of their lives. Depression can limit your quality of life, affect relationships, lead to lost time from work or school, and contribute to other chronic illnesses (or diseases), such as diabetes and heart diseases. Sometimes it leads to suicide. Major depression is a clinical term used to define a time period that lasts more than two months in which a person feels worthless and hopeless."¹

Person feeling depressed

Symptoms of depression can include³:

  • Sadness throughout the day, nearly every day

  • Trouble making decisions

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Feelings of irritability

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Aches and pains (such as headaches, stomach pain, joint pains or other pains)

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Change in appetite or weight

  • Loss of interest in or enjoyment of one’s favourite activities

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt

  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Fortunately, for those of you experiencing bouts of depression, know that it can be treated!

The medical system may not be the only way to treat your depression.² But, you will likely need to work with medical professionals (perhaps a psychiatrist, family doctor, allied naturopathic doctor, registered clinical counsellor) to learn about and access different treatment options. Some treatment options may be:

  • Professional help, such as seeking support from a clinical counsellor, family doctor or psychiatrist

  • Familial and social help, such as talking to your family and friends about how you are feeling

  • Starting medications for depression, with your doctors help you can take medications to help rebalance the chemicals in your brain to help you start feeling better

These are not the only options though!

A few months ago, I read a book by Hilary Jacobs Hendel called It's Not Always Depression. Not only is this book great for professionals, it is also an amazing self-help resource!

In this book, Hendel helps you understand that depression is a coping mechanism (or defense) "because in that state you are out of touch with your core emotions".⁴ For some being out of touch with your core emotions (i.e., sadness, fear, anger, disgust, joy, excitement sexual excitement) is more tolerable (maybe comfortable or safe?) then being in touch with them. And so depression acts as a way to disconnect you from your felt experience. It becomes so good at its job that depression pulls you away from any other experiencing that you might want to feel, like enjoying that movie that finally came out of Netflix or celebrating your friend's birthday.

Similar to other self-help resource, Hendel offers a powerful way for you to get unstuck from the depression.

*drum roll please*

Introducing The Change Triangle!

The Change Triangle from Hilary Jacobs Hendel

"The Change Triangle is a map. A guide to carry you from a place of disconnection back to your true Self. It's a step-by-step process for simply feeling better. It works by getting you reacquainted with core emotions."⁴

So to get unstuck from the depression, use the Change Triangle to help you identify other parts of your felt experience. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Identify which corner you most closely find yourself.

  2. Pause, breathe, and calm yourself for a few seconds at least.

  3. Try to name all the underlying core emotions coming up in the moment. There may be more than one. Name each one you can.

  4. Listen without judging to what the emotion is telling you.

  5. Think through the best way to proceed in the moment.

"The Change Triangle was first coined the "Triangle of Conflict" in the 1970's by Dr. David Malan and later renamed the "Triangle of Experience" by Diana Fosha, Ph.D. in her pioneering text, The Transforming Power of Affect (Basic Books, 2000). Diana Fosha is also the developer of AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy).

Check out some of these other resources for coping with depression:

  • It's Not Always Depression: self-help book to help you move from a place of disconnection to a place of connection with yourself.

  • HeretoHelpBC: helps you find quality information, learn new skills, and connect with key resources in BC.

  • MoodGYM: an online self-help program designed to help users prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is like an interactive, online self-help book which teaches skills based on cognitive behaviour therapy.

  • DepressionHurts: linked to Mood Disorders Society of Canada, offers in-depth information about depression, treatment options and resources.

Read more about my approach to Depression Counselling.

Stay strong,



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