Depression & Wellbeing
Both psychological and pharmacological treatment of depression has traditionally focused on the relief of symptoms. That is, reducing feelings of sadness and worthlessness, increasing interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, and improving thinking patterns and the ability to concentrate and sleep. However, relief of suffering in a person does not necessarily lead to a "happy" person, or a person who has the skills to thrive in life.
To understand depression and wellbeing it might help to think of mental health as a garden. If mental health is a garden, depression is the weeds. Weeds infiltrate gardens and can steal sunlight, water, space, and nutrients. Depression similarly robs us of our energy, motivation, pleasure and interests, and can damage important aspects of our lives.
To protect a garden from infiltrating weeds, you have to act quickly to reduce the impact and spread of weeds. However, clearing the weeds can also leave an empty garden. If you want to have a beautiful garden you can't just clear weeds. You then have to actively take steps to grow your garden - to prepare the soil, plant your flowers, and consistently care for your garden.
Similarly, treatment of depression - whist an incredibly important and necessary first step - does not necessarily leave a person with good mental health. Mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.
Instead, to improve your mental health you have to actively take steps to enhance your wellbeing.
Focusing on improving your wellbeing after you have recovered from depression is incredibly important because research shows that 50% of people who have experienced depression will experience a future episode of depression. To prevent relapse it is important to continue psychological and/or pharmacological treatment- until you reach full remission. However, research also shows that incorporating strategies to improve your wellbeing reduces your risk of relapse of depression. So the harder you work at improving your wellbeing, the less likely those weeds will return.
If you are currently experiencing depression, research also shows that implementing strategies to improve your wellbeing can help with your recovery, and can help you to live a satisfying and meaningful life, even in the presence of ongoing illness symptoms.
I know nothing about gardening. But I do know that scientific research shows there are many things we can do to improve our wellbeing. What's more, recent research shows that people who have experienced major depression can go on to achieve the highest levels of wellbeing possible.
The aim of EBW is to help you manage those weeds and to grow whatever garden it is that you want in this life.