janette houghton human givens therapy

We asked Janette Houghton – W...

What is Depression – and how to deal with it   Would you know if someone you care about has depression? Most people probably think that they would...

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janette houghton human givens therapy

We asked Janette Houghton – What is Depression?

What is Depression – and how to deal with it   Would you know if someone you care about has depression? Most people probably think that ...

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We asked Janette Houghton – What is Depression?

What is Depression – and how to deal with it


Would you know if someone you care about has depression? Most people probably think that they would, but it isn’t necessarily as obvious as you might expect. Indeed, until some simple screening questionnaires were introduced for GPs to use, half of them were missing the diagnosis in patients that came to consult them.


Depression: some distortions of fact

To be deeply depressed is just about the most awful feeling we can experience, apart from sheer terror. It can disable anyone. But the topic is surrounded by false ideas and myths: Depression, as experienced by the vast majority of sufferers for example, is not a biological illness; neither is it ‘anger turned inward’; it is not a ‘chemical imbalance in the brain’ and it is not usefully divided into ‘clinical depression’, ‘post-natal depression’ and ordinary ‘depression’; and is not, in most cases, hard to come out of.


Suppose, for instance, you have a friend who used to come to a class with you, perhaps a sport or exercise class. Then one week they don’t want to go. Perhaps they say they have strained a muscle or that they are working late more often. You believe them – why not? Time passes suddenly you realise that you haven’t spoken for quite a while. Perhaps you feel hurt and think it must be something you said. Or perhaps they have depression.


Very many people will not say that they are depressed or may even deny it. They may manage a smile even though they are feeling deadened inside. But one important tell-tale sign is loss of interest in activities that someone used to enjoy. When people start to experience low mood (perhaps they have had a disappointment or a bereavement or have been made redundant or, for some other reason, start not to feel good about themselves or their lives), they gradually tend to withdraw from social activities. The more time they spend alone, however, the more time they have to dwell on whatever is worrying or upsetting them.

janette houghton human givens therapy

The more they dwell, the more hopeless they may feel. They are very often filled with feelings of worthlessness and guilt (because depression gets everything out of proportion) and, unbeknownst to you, may have fleeting or not so fleeting thoughts of killing themselves. They find it hard to get to sleep or to stay asleep, feel exhausted in the mornings and lack motivation to get going with their day. They may comfort eat or avoid eating – both are common symptoms of depression particularly in women, whereas males are more likely to cut off their feelings through drinking or other substance abuse.

How to break the cycle of depression

And they find it hard to think straight, so that even making unimportant decisions feels overwhelming. Perhaps you notice that they seem less focused or more tearful. So the first alarm bells that should ring are when the person you care about stops engaging in and enjoying whatever used to give them pleasure. This is especially often the giveaway for adolescents in whom symptoms of depression can manifest as negativity, irritability, not feeling understood, behaving antisocially, etc, which may easily be mistaken for ‘normal’ adolescent behaviour.


Depression is a horrible, too often hidden, condition. But the good news is that, once recognised, there are simple, speedy straightforward ways to treat it that don’t require medication.


Why people get depressed

People sink into a depressed mood when their innate physical or emotional needs are not being met and, instead of dealing with this situation, they begin to worry about it — misusing their imagination. All depressed people worry. This increases the amount of dreaming they do, upsetting the balance between slow-wave, recuperative sleep and dream sleep. Consequently, they start to develop an imbalance between energy burning dream sleep and refreshing slow-wave sleep. Soon they start to wake up feeling tired and unmotivated. (Depressed and anxious people dream far more intensely than non-depressed people.) This makes them worry even more as they feel that, “something is wrong with me”.


Depression is a human vulnerability. Suppose we have a setback or suffer some traumatic event that interferes with getting our emotional needs met. This arouses negative expectations in the autonomic nervous system — feelings of frustration, being ‘stressed’, anxious, angry, guilty etc. — but, instead of taking action to bring the arousal down, which is what the autonomic nervous system is designed to help us do, we start to worry even more, going over and over what’s troubling us: ‘Why did I lose that job?’…”Why do they treat me like this?”… ‘What is going to happen to me?’… ‘How am I going to pay my bills?’ — on and on creating a mountain of negative expectations. This over-stimulates the autonomic arousal system which is why depression is such a strong emotion.


All strong emotions focus and lock attention and, with depression, attention stays focused on all the bad things that seem to be happening to us, whether real or illusory. Every little thing we worry about and do not resolve in the day is translated into a bad dream that night. All these worries have to be worked through in extended and intense periods of dream activity in REM sleep as the brain attempts to rebalance your arousal levels. This upsets the relationship between slow wave sleep and REM sleep.


Why depressed people are always tired

Extended dreaming is exhausting, not just because it deprives us of restful and restorative slow-wave sleep (that should make up three-quarters of our sleep time), but also because it stimulates the orientation response. This is a vital pathway in the brain that alerts us to interesting things in the day, generating motivation to act, but it can’t do this so well if it has been over-used in dream-sleep the previous night. So, the next morning we awake feeling terrible because we haven’t really slept, and we find it much harder to get motivated to get up and do anything because the brain mechanism that generates that interest in life is exhausted as well.


Exhaustion on waking and lack of motivation are features common to all depressed people. Because our normal sense that life is meaningful comes from the actions we take, when our motivation levels are low, life quickly comes to seem meaningless. The natural delight we take in being alive and doing things drains away.


How does human givens therapy relieve depression?

Human Givens therapists work with the fundamental truth that people do not develop mental illness when their innate emotional needs are being met in balance. Working with this organising idea they employ techniques from various therapies that have proven effective (interpersonal, cognitive behavioural, solution focused) plus they add the new knowledge you have just read above that shows the importance of vividly creating new expectations in the mind of the patient to ‘kick-start’ them again.


Because depression, like any strong emotion, fogs our thinking, emotional arousal is reduced to start with. The therapist has a range of ways to do this so that the patient can begin to think more clearly about the situation that is causing them to worry. When the patient has calmed down, the therapist will usually explain what depression is and how it is caused. This in itself is hugely therapeutic for most people since no one else is likely to have explained how and why the feelings arose and they were probably imagining that there was something wrong with them. Simultaneously the therapist will do an informal emotional needs audit to find what needs are not being met so they can begin to tackle the worrying that is causing the problems.


Whilst doing this the patient’s past achievements, skills and good qualities are also looked for and given as much attention by the therapist as the troublesome history. If it emerges that there is trauma behind the depression, this will be resolved using the HG version of the rewind technique. This organic mind/body approach can bring about the remission of depression in a fraction of the time taken by cognitive or behavioural or interpersonal therapy.


The therapist will almost certainly use guided imagery to help the depressed person change their negative expectations into more positive, realistic and concrete ones to help them re-connect with previously enjoyed activities and rehearse in their imagination doing the things they need to be doing. This helps them become more confident about using their own resources to pick up their life and get on with taking the actions that will help them start meeting their emotional needs once more. Learning how to fulfil these innate needs resolves depression and prevents relapses.


Usually much progress is made on the first session but the therapist will always want to see a person who has been deeply depressed a number of times to make sure that progress is maintained and that the patient is taking steps to change their expectations. In our experience, when patients know that their negative ruminations are causing their poor nights’ sleep and their exhausted days, they are quickly motivated to work to break the cycle of depression. Most cases of postnatal depression can be treated very effectively in exactly the same way. Human givens (HG) therapy is effective on its own but can also be done alongside drug treatment.


Note: Depressed or anxious people should not have forms of counselling or psychotherapy that concentrate on the past and encourage introspection or emotional arousal. Research shows this is often unintentionally harmful.


You can speak to Janette Houghton at the Orchard Clinic, Huntingdon Road in Thrapston – telephone 01832 733686


Janette Houghton MHGI, HG.Dip.P

Human Givens Practitioner


07731 673070


Top Dog Walking Tips from Pegasus Dog Walking

Pegasus Dog Walking is a local family run business located in Rushden, providing a first class fully insured friendly service for your dog(s).  William, company owner says “Having grown up with dogs all of my life, and the pleasure it has brought me, it was an easy decision to start up a Dog Walking service after retiring from the British Armed Forces after serving 22 years”

pegasus dog walking

Pegasus Dog Walking share some top dog walking tips

All dog owners know they should walk their dog at least once per day, but did you know that fewer than 20% actually do!

If dog walking is a chore, rather than a pleasure, then Pegasus Dog Walking has some top tips to get you motivated!

  1. If your dog pulls on the lead,
    1. Stop and have them sit by your side. They will soon learn that by pulling they will not go far
    2. Use a front clipping harness. With a front clip, as the dog pulls, it pulls the body around towards you, and he/she soon realises that pulling gets them nowhere!
    3. Keep them focussed by bringing along some high value treats


  1. When walking your dog,
    1. Use a short dog lead, as this allows you to have more control
    2. If using a retractable/extendable lead; be aware that these could cause unnecessary hazards compared to traditional leads
    3. Allow your dog to have a sniff! Walks are about exercise but not just physical. Having a sniff and a snuffle exercises their brain with lots of mental stimulation.
    4. If your dog is off their lead and you see another dog that is. Retrieve your dog put them on their lead and have them sit by your side until dog passes.
    5. Always ask before approaching other dogs.  Not every dog is friendly and some are scared of other dogs, or specific types of dogs, so it’s courteous to ask before getting nose to nose!
    6. Take a water bottle. Getting thirsty on a walk is not just confined to the humans.  Take a water bottle which you can pour water into your cupped hand – or a collapsible drinking bowl which you can purchase from good camping shops.
    7. Remember to pick up your dog poop


  1. Thinking of hot days, as soon as you head out (not at the hottest part of the day) place your palm on the sun-baked footpath to check it’s not too hot. If you can’t bear your hand on the pavement then your dogs paw pads could get burnt.

pegasus dog walking

  1. In case the worst happens, make sure your dog has a micro-chip and also a tag with your number on it so people can call you immediately when he/she is found.


  1. For evening walks invest in some reflective clothing, both for you and for your dog. There are a wide range of high viz coats, collars and even flashing gizmos you can put onto your dog for your evening stroll.


  1. Finally, go somewhere new! Dogs love a new place to sniff.  Always vary your walks, never the same route at the same time (both for your dog’s mental stimulation and your own personal safety) and at least once a month try to find a completely new place to walk.

We hope you find these tips useful, but if you’ve just not got time for that daily walk, or you are out at work all day and think your dog(s) would enjoy some company then you can call Pegasus Dog Walking.

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For more Information:

Facebook:  /Pegasusdogwalking

Web page. https://www.pegasusdogwalking.co.uk

Email:  pegasusdogwalking@gmail.com

Telephone: 07933 558 743 or 01933 713 386


Residents Asked to Help Cultivate a Tree Strategy

Residents in East Northamptonshire are being asked to help cultivate a strategy on how East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) looks after trees in the district.


The guidance and principles of the strategy will cover common issues with trees, as well as supplementary information on how ENC intends to manage its trees. Private tree owners will also be able to use the strategy.


ENC are welcoming comments via an online survey, running from 21 May to 2 July. The survey can be found at www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/TreeManagement

Residents asked to help cultivate a tree strategy

Cllr Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council says:


“The flora and fauna of East Northamptonshire is something very close to my heart and having this strategy to help focus how the council tends for its trees is very important.


“Looking to the future, we hope to have this document adopted by all local Town and Parish Councils to create a sense of continuity, across the district, for our residents.”


The draft version of the ‘Tree Management – guidance and principles’ can be round at www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/treemanagement