Depression is a captivating route into the understanding of how our brains work. The cause of depression offers an ever-increasing circle of questions. Depressed people, for example, will often ask why they are always exhausted.  But they may not be working, spending a lot of time asleep, or in bed most of the day. In the absence of any expending energy; why do they feel so tired?

Human Givens psychology reveals that the symptoms of depression arise when excessive worrying upsets the balance between the amount of energy burned during REM (dream state) sleep and recuperative slow-wave sleep. The result of this imbalance is that depressed people wake up tired and unmotivated.

The healthy feeling when life has meaning and purpose comes from being motivated to actively engage with the world. Only when we lose the motivational energy that promotes action does the sense that life is meaningful drain away.

Our innate knowledge motivates us to engage with the world.  We all continually experience the effect of this innate knowledge as "needs.” Our physical needs (air, water, food and sleep) are obvious because, if they are not met, we quickly die. But many psychologists and psychotherapists before us, have observed that emotional needs are equally crucial for human wellbeing. These include the need for:

  • Security, safe territory in the home and outside where we can live without experiencing excessive fear and anxiety
  • Volition, a sense of autonomy and control over what is happening around us.
  • Attention, receiving it, but also giving it, an essential nutrition that fuels the development of each individual, family and culture.
  • Emotional connection to other people, both individually (friendship, love, intimacy) and in the wider community (respect, status)
  • Privacy, time to reflect and consolidate our experiences
  • A sense of competence and achievement (ensuring we don't feel low self-esteem).
  • The need for meaning and purpose that comes from being stretched mentally or physically (or both)
Nature also gave us resources to help us get our needs met. These "givens" include:
  • Long-term memory, so we can learn new skills, improve our understanding, absorb
  • language and pass our learning on to the next generation
  • Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions and problem solve more creatively and objectively
  • The ability to build rapport, empathize and connect with others
  • The ability to "know" the world through metaphorical pattern matching, hence our delight in discoveries, exceptions, resonances, harmony, music, biographies, stories and jokes
  • A brain that dreams; dreaming is nature's way of metaphorically discharging the autonomic nervous system of accumulated expectations we got worked up about during the day, and did not deactivate by actioning them in the real world

If our innate needs are met well and in balance, we are mentally healthy and cannot be otherwise. When they are not being met, our anxiety levels rise and we start to worry. This is the beginning, not only of depression, but of all mental illness.

To begin breaking the cycle of depression we must have an understanding that our genes are driving us to get our innate needs met, and an understanding of the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming.

Anima will help you to:

  • Stop the worry cycle.
  • Rebalance a sleep pattern.
  • Rehearse the actions needed to move forward.
  • Use your own resources to solve your problems instead of worrying about them.

Anyone suffering depression because of traumatic experiences, we can help to de-traumatise. Recovery is usually quick after this.  If the environmental pressures need addressing, other agencies might be able to be brought in to help. Anima draws no artificial boundaries between mental, physical and social problems, but aims for a seamless service that helps address all of a person's needs.


Griffin, J., & Tyrrell, I. (2003). Human givens: The new approach to emotional health and clear thinking. Chalvington, UK: HG Publishing.Griffin, J., & Tyrrell, I. Editors (2007) An idea in practice: Using the human givens approach, Chalvington, UK: HG Publishing. Griffin, J., & Tyrrell, I. (2003). Dreaming reality: How dreaming keeps us sane or can drive us mad. Chalvington, UK: HG Publishing. Griffin, J., & Tyrrell, I., & Winn, D. (2004). How to lift depression […fast]: The human givens approach. Chalvington, UK: HG Publishing.

“I was so tired, I didn’t want to do anything, I just felt like I was disappearing, I started seeing Kate, she helped with my sleep and gave me hope.  I am now back at work and in a new relationship” James, Buckingham 

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