Some people may believe that if you want to get better from depression, you need to surrender to it, explore your pain in-depth and search for its root cause. This is not true. So is the idea that depression is anger turned inward, which you, therefore, need to express - perhaps by punching pillows or yelling at the imaginary ‘parent' representing the one who forced you to practise football or take piano lessons against your will all those years ago. Yet this is what some counselling and psychotherapy currently on offer invites you to believe. Depressed clients who undergo this form of therapy often complain that they are not feeling any better after many sessions of ‘deep' digging.

Digging up emotional wounds from the past just makes your depression worse and gives you more to worry and think over, which makes it harder to sleep and makes you feel more worn out and unmotivated. The less able a person is to activate the rational portion of the brain, which provides solutions based on an accurate appraisal of the problem, the more emotionally distressed they become by revisiting traumatic memories from the past.

It is completely irrational to attempt to get better by getting worse first. Imagine a doctor treating stomach pain by giving you something to increase it and then saying, ‘Yes, this will get to the root of it now!'

New understandings that neuroscientists have uncovered about the way the brain works confirm that encouraging painful memories is just about the worst thing to do for depression. We now know that the brain is almost infinitely plastic. What we think and how we feel makes a physical impression on it. Our experiences are literally resculpting our brains all the time. When we stimulate and challenge our brains, new connections are forged. The more we use these connections, the more we practise skills or act on what we've learned, and the stronger those connections grow.

This inevitably means that if we keep thinking about the awful things that have happened to us in the past or keep seeing a specific reason why we are miserable right now, we will reinforce negative experiences at the expense of happy ones. It is physiologically unavoidable! When we explore our hurt or buried rage, we don't actually "get it all out," but instead worsen our gloomy mood by repeatedly thinking about morbid things. In effect, we are rehearsing and perfecting depressive thinking, just as effectively as we can rehearse to strengthen a musical or sporting talent!

This finding from neuroscience explains the psychological finding that people with depression have either a better memory for negative events and experiences or a poorer memory for positive events and experiences and that repeatedly recalling negative information makes the depression worse and last longer. Going over painful feelings from the past also encourages brain exhaustion.

Having said all this, it is important to understand that accentuating the positive is not a trick to force the mind into thinking that things are fine when they are not. It is a means of undoing the deceptions caused by emotional thinking and creating a more realistic mindset.

Solution-focused hypnotherapy is a positive and forward-looking type of talking therapy. It uses hypnosis to gently bring a client into relaxation by employing metaphors, visuals, and encouraging suggestions to activate the rational side of the brain, where good change is possible.