Finding the need
for deep rest
...inside of 'depressed'
What is depression?
Depression is a painful psychological condition that most of us experience at one time or another in our lives. The experience of depression can be assessed on a scale, measured by the intensity, frequency, duration, and pervasiveness of depressive symptoms. .
To various degrees, depression negatively impacts our energy level, our mood, our thinking, our feelings, and functioning from day to day. It can lower or increase appetite, disrupt sleep patterns, and diminish our capacity for concentration and pleasure.
Depression can make us feel hopeless, sad, heavy, overwhelmed, and scared for our future. At these moments, it is usually more difficult to relate and connect with the people in our life. It can make us want to withdraw, and we don't have much energy for anything.
Depression is very common and treatable. There are many ways to successfully address, heal, and resolve depression.
How do we heal from depression?
Therapy, as well as certain life changes, can help lift our depression. In certain cases, when depression is truly debilitating, adding medication can be of tremendous help. For episodes of what is called, "major depression", studies show that the combination of therapy and medication is most effective. This is due to the benefits of the medication itself on mood, energy, and cognition, but also because medication can give us the needed boost to make positive changes in therapy.
Approaching depression from an integrative perspective allows us to view and treat depression from many angles at once. This leads to a more complete and thorough treatment. For example, we must address biological dimensions of depression and look at the positive changes we can make on this specific dimension. In the same way, we must examine the cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social dimensions of depression, among others.
Occasionally, depression arises due to underlying trauma. In this case, a trauma-based approach will be instrumental to heal the depression. I use a combination of various psychological modalities that treat depression in a comprehensive manner. I will give brief examples of a few different modalities that treat depression below.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) perspective of working with depression:
IFS has a very precise, compassionate, and effective view when it comes to healing depression. Rather than viewing our whole self as being depressed, it is important to make the differentiation that depression is not a condition of our whole self, but rather represents a part of ourselves that carrying feelings of depression. This particular distinction begins to open up one of the core understandings of IFS, which is that our inner world consists of a "system" of parts in relationship to each other.
Depression is not a singular condition of our whole being, but is usually the result of several parts of us that are engaged in a certain dynamic. For example, often we find a prominent "inner critic" part that attacks other parts of us, as well as so-called "exiled" parts that carry strong feelings of different kinds (sadness, grief, hurt, anger, fear, trauma etc.). Many of us also have "manager" parts that push us to live our lives in such a way that we become exhausted.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) perspective of depression:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy shows us that we are often unaware of how powerfully our thoughts, and patterns of thinking, are constantly shaping our outlook, feelings, mood, desires, energy, and behavior. Unless we’ve worked from a CBT perspective, or other approaches that observe thougts so closely, we don't quite appreciate how fast, automatic, and unconscious our thinking processes are. This leads to blind acceptance our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and conclusion about the past, present, without ever questioning them. We become controlled by our mind without even knowing it.
It is possible that we live in a mental world that is not accurately reflecting reality as it is, and that our mental world is conditioning us to feel bad, and to repeat patterns that entrench depression.
As a therapy, CBT does a fantastic job of helping us observe and record our thoughts, and then take some time to assess whether our thinking is faulty or not. If it turns out that our thinking is faulty, or not representing a realistic appraisal of our situation, we then correct our thinking with ideas, beliefs, and conclusions that more accurate observe the truth. When we're depressed, we often tend to perceive things through a certain lens of depression, and our thinking can actually not reflect the truth of the situation. This can create a feedback loop: distorted thinking makes us feel depressed feelings, which then inhibits positive action. So, CBT helps us appreciate how deeply interconnected thoughts, feelings, and behavior are. We basically slow things down to observe and interrupt a process that is creating depression.
CBT is a particularly effective therapy for those who are more naturally "left-brained" and drawn to approaches that emphasize logic, repetition, and verifiable, quantitative measurement of psychological changes. But regardless, CBT is a useful therapy for anyone who respects the science of its well-deserved popularity.
Body-centered and nervous-system approaches to depression:
Body-centered, or "somatic", approaches to treating depression include such modalities as Somatic Experiencing (SE), Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP), and Hakomi Method.
First, it is always important to include the body when treating depression, because the disconnection from our bodies - and the mind-body split in general - is one of the primary causes of depression. The mind-body split basically means that we live more in our heads, and don't have significant access to feelings and sensations.
Sometimes, disconnection from our bodies is due to underlying trauma that is unconscious. It is extremely intelligent for us to disconnect from our body, at any age, when it helps us feel safe. We must honor and bow to the protective system of our body. It can save us from feeling overwhelmed. At the same time, we can disconnect from the body when danger, of the physical or emotional kind, is not immediately present. At some point, we have to process things in our lives that did not get processed, because experiences get stored in the body.
It is possible for symptoms of depression to not be “primary” symptoms, but rather secondary symptoms that are resulting from an earlier, unaddressed trauma. This means that if we treat depression without addressing the trauma, it may temporarily resolve depressive symptoms, but our depression will tend to recur, because there is a more fundamental dysregulation of our nervous system taking place, which eventually exhausts the resources of our body. This is one reason why depression, and other psychological symptoms, can be chronic for some people.
Somatic approaches can help show us if something like this is taking place, and then brilliantly give us the tools to work with this in a safe, intelligent, and effective manner.