Depression is the feeling that we are carrying a heavy weight that is too burdensome. It is a feeling of being “lost”. We are separate from the world and the world is much bigger than we are. There is a feeling of aloneness. The world is carrying on without us and we are being left behind. You may feel a “lifelessness” or a persistent sadness or what most people describe as “feeling down”. Feeling disappointed by our relationships or our everyday experiences, some people have felt this way ever since they can remember, and others have some precipitant which occurs that brings these feelings on. Depression is so common and felt by so many at some period of a person’s life that it has become a national public health problem. Over 21 million people every year suffer from and are treated for depression.
Depression is different from grief. Both actually involve loss. Sometimes grief can cause a depression, triggering prior losses in someone’s life. Both often times have look-a-like symptoms. Yet depression is a longer standing feeling of emptiness-that there is a “void”-something is “missing” in one’s life. Most people think depression exists outside of themselves and if they change something on the outside then their depression will go away. Often times this may work for awhile, but depression is a feeling that lingers on and tends to re-surface after the temporary change has been made. I see depression as a feeling that is about who and what we are on the inside. It is within us and it has to do with how we feel about ourselves. Are we critical of ourselves all the time? Can we ever do enough to measure up? Does life seem very black or white? Why are we never satisfied? Are you “soul-searching”? These kinds of questions are different from grief. They require us to put on a different set of eyeglasses to see.
During the course of our life cycle, we pass through different stages. The way we feel about ourselves usually originates from the earliest of experiences and the most important being with those who we have attachments with. When our early beginnings get off to a not-so-great start, we often are impacted later in adulthood. Chances are that if you experienced trauma, or felt neglected and/or suffered abuse, there is likelihood you are more prone to depression. Certainly losing a parent at a young age or even a sibling can be traumatic. Yet, even when we feel we have had a good family experience, there may be strong feelings generated by those important bonds that interfere with our everyday relationships and satisfaction with life.