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A woman is wondering if guided imagery for depression can help her with persistent suicidal thoughts

14 Jul
A woman is wondering if guided imagery for depression can help her with persistent suicidal thoughts, anxiety, weight loss and insomnia, as she waits for her appointment with her doctor..
Question: I''m wondering if your Depression imagery will help with persistent suicidal thoughts. I''ve had these since an episode of depression while I was in college, about 10-12 years ago. I''ve been on an SSRI since then - docs have always said to just stay on them, and I''ve kind been afraid to stop taking them, anyway.

I''ve been using these thoughts kind of like a barometer - checking in with myself when they become more frequent and persistent. However, I''ve recently started to have a lot of anxiety, losing weight, not sleeping and the suicidal thoughts have become really intense and nearly constant. I don''t think I would really harm myself, but they''re starting to disturb me. My doc set up a psych intake appointment for me for counseling/possibly meds, but I couldn''t get in for a while, so I''m looking for things to help in the meantime . .

Vera Mae



Dear V.M.,

It''s good you''re going for the evaluation, because it does sound like there may be some shift in status, biochemistry or something that could use attending to. You may need an adjustment or switch in your meds. It''s not clear to me how much of this is depression and how much is obsessive thinking. (Most SSRI’s, or sustained serotonin release inhibitors, are known to be helpful with both conditions.) Either way, the Depression imagery can''t hurt and certainly may help; and the Healing Trauma might, too, even if there are no specific traumatic events you can point to that seem to be driving this. Another possible kind of imagery is the Healthful Sleep CD, since insomnia or sleep disturbances are so often a piece of depression.

I''d start with one, see if you respond well to it, and if so, then get the others. Some people are eventually able to wean themselves off their SSRI’s as they get more and more skillful at self-regulation through guided imagery. Others can reduce their dosage or go off them for a while - even a couple of years - and then go on them again as needed. It’s certainly worth a shot and the worst thing that can happen is you will have wasted a minimal amount of time and money.

So sorry you''re having a bad time. This too shall pass (although if you''re truly depressed, you won''t think so - a feeling of hopelessness and limited options are part of the cognitive distortion of depression - but don’t be fooled by it).

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award