How to Think Differently About Your Depression
When working with individuals, there are 3 primary ways I think about depression. Let's explore which one best describes your experience and how to get the support you need.
Common (or ordinary) Depression
We all go through this type of depression, whether it's the loss of a relationship, grief, financial or work stress, or unprocessed trauma, we can all benefit from knowing more about how to support ourselves when it happens. Years ago, I read about a tribe whose villagers had designed a coping method when they felt the grips of despair and depression.
The afflicted individual would travel away from the village into the wilderness. When the appropriate spot was found, the individual drew a circle in the dirt and sat within its boundaries in meditation and rumination. This would continue for several days until the issue had been integrated and the individual was prepared to return to life in the village.
This makes me curious about our potential to heal ourselves, to draw upon our own resources when we recognize we need to journey inward on the search for wholeness and peace. When we cannot eat or sleep, focus on our work, or be there fully for our loved ones, I wonder if it might be helpful to think to ourselves: "My body does not want me focusing on the regular routine, but is diverting my attention that I may focus on what is distressing me."
I wonder what might happen if we allow ourselves a bias of trust that our brain and body are ultimately trying to help us heal. And this might be a way of understanding the role or purpose of depression in our lives.
Depressive Personality style
A large percentage of the population could be described as exhibiting depressive personality traits. These individuals are often okay being melancholy and do not resist exploring pain and uncomfortable feelings.
Many therapists identify as having depressive personalities, and this may be why they can be of particular help when individuals need to sift through the hard stuff. I sometimes like to think a good therapist is like Professor Lupin teaching Harry Potter how to fight off dementors using a patronus charm. In this analogy, it is essential that Harry (the therapy patient) learn how to draw upon his own resources to face those enemies of happiness, the Dementors.
As with any personality style, you'll want to know yourself well enough to sharpen your strengths and to know how to get proper support for your particular struggles.
This can be a daunting experience for an individual who experiences major depressive episodes for extended periods of time. If you fit in this category, then you are likely familiar with all of the ways society does not tolerate depressive symptoms and behaviors. This is why it can be essential to surround yourself with people, family members, friends, and mental health specialists who actively support the treatment of your depressive symptoms.
Many individuals in this population can benefit from pharmaceuticals, such as anti-depressants. What the peer-reviewed research shows is that pharmaceutical intervention in combination with talk therapy provide lasting benefits to individuals struggling with Depression.
Relying on medication alone can lead to a lifetime of dependency on an increasing dosage of pharmaceuticals. The addition of talk therapy can help moderate symptoms and help address underlying causes, such as trauma and grief, which can worsen depressive symptoms.
To learn more about how to heal through your depression, contact me for a 15-minute Consultation.