mood disorder

Everybody feels down sometimes. Life seems dismal, boring, stuck, irritating. But what if that down feeling comes along and never lets you go? What if you go from feeling bummed out to feeling deep despair? What if your hopelessness gets into your body, and you can barely eat, or sleep, or force yourself to get the basic tasks of your life done?

Then you’ve in a depression. To be de-pressed is to feel like some dark force is pushing you down. This can range from moderate but disturbing forms of depression, to debilitating forms where you really can’t function at all and may struggle with thoughts of suicide.

In more severe depressions, you may sense that no one understands what it’s really like. How do you explain to someone, even someone who loves you and wants to help, what it feels like to have your psychological skin torn off so that every thought, every sensation, every little feeling is unbearable? It’s one of those things that you have to experience to understand.

Less catastrophic depressions can be very destructive too. They may not completely take you down, but they can go on and on, chronic, and slowly take away your enjoyment of life and your ability to take hold of your dreams and make them real. Relationships, work, and play become drained of the energy they used to have.

I realize that this is pretty dark stuff—not so easy to think about. However, people who are suffering these states of mind feel terribly isolated. Often no one wants to hear what it’s really like, or simply can’t understand. So I’m choosing to speak these things out loud, for the sake of anyone reading who might be suffering badly, and for potential therapy clients who are looking for someone who gets it.

If you go to your doctor and explain your depression, you’re likely to walk away with an Rx for anti-depressant medication. These can be helpful, even life-saving. But without therapy, the underlying problems in the person’s life may never get addressed. The biological side of depression is real, but it’s more complicated than “a chemical imbalance.” The truth is, we don’t fully understand the biology of serious problems with mood. We have a few ideas, and a few medicines that sometimes work.

You don’t usually get badly depressed unless something is really wrong. Your psyche is responding to a real crisis when it goes into a depression. It could be any number of problems, including unhappy work situations, relationship problems, childhood or more recent trauma, neglect early in your life, spiritual crisis, chronic stress, and the list goes on. Life presents lots of difficulties, and you may need a good therapist to begin to sort out these complex issues.

I believe that a depression can actually lead somewhere. The symptoms of depression can become signposts along a path to deep change. Taking this perspective—that depression can be meaningful—helps relieve the pain of these states of mind. If this terrible experience means something, and maybe is even going somewhere important, then it becomes easier to get through.

I hope what I’ve written helps a few people who are suffering. Consider all your options, including therapy, and please contact me if I can be of help.