Depression is a terrible state to be in, but it does have a purpose. It is my hypothesis that depression is a very natural protective state that arrives at an early age and “looks after you” for the rest of your life, even though it is awful and no longer doing what it was designed for.
It is my argument that there are 2 types of Depression; #1, Lifetime Depression, #2 Circumstantial Depression.
Lifetime Depression is that noticed from an early age and accompanied by a lack of feeling. Circumstantial Depression I believe to be very different to lifetime Depression in that it has a greater dynamic to it and includes strong feelings; anger, confusion etc..
People with depression have an imbalance of chemicals in the brain and I agree with that. I do not agree that the imbalance of chemicals causes depression. I would suggest that it is the result of it. Science often makes findings public without questioning which is cause and effect and then attributes cause where it is wrong to do so. This is lazy analysis. Fire Fighters are seen at the site of most fires, that doesn’t mean they cause them.
So what do I think causes depression? As a therapist who has helped around 2,500 people overcome a lifetime of anxiety, and has gone on to work with depression, let me explain. Every case of anxiety I have ever dealt with had an initial traumatising incident. This is an experience as a child that was so bad that their unconscious made an emergency program called anxiety. In effect this is a life time of hyper vigilance of looking for the danger in everything and therefore noticing more than others do. In turn it affects self worth and the incident itself is never the thing that continues to hurt them – it is how they feel about themselves because it happened to THEM.
With Lifetime Depression I have noticed the same type of traumatising event. The difference is that instead of being stuck in the flight or fight state of anxiety they drop into the freeze state. This is in effect a primitive state of “Play Dead.” Playing dead has a proactive role in the animal world of stopping you from being eaten. Predators know that an animal that it has chased and killed is likely to be healthy, whereas a dead animal it chances upon may have died of poisoning and therefore would not be sensible to eat. So someone in that initial Play Dead state has now installed a response program called depression. This program will be called into play anytime that they are overwhelmed in the future. The problem is that whilst people with anxiety learn to respond in challenging circumstances, even if not well, the Depressed Person plays dead and doesn’t learn adequate coping strategies and responses.
People with anxiety can make dramatic changes to their life by dealing with the traumatising event and therefore changing the anxiety “program.” This is not the case with those with depression. Dealing with the initial traumatising event can lead to a similar promising outcome but this is short lived. The reason for lack of longevity of result is that anything the Depressed person sees as conflict has always lead to the play dead state and that they have not learned another strategy to replace it. Depression really is needed by them. Depression is not something that is cured, it is something that is needed less as better ways of dealing with life are learned. Lifetime Depression to be lifted requires the initial traumatising event to be dealt with and followed up with long term life coaching and learning to be assertive (not aggressive). It is unwise to ask the unconscious to “remove” the depression program, in the same way that you would not chop off the wire to a smoke alarm, you would just re-set it. For many people they would no longer be alive if they had not had the depressed state. The TOTAL absence of feelings is less likely to lead to taking one’s own life than the confused, angry, upset state of Circumstantial Depression.
Anti-depressants give patients that numbness that usually comes naturally with depression. In effect this possibly lowers the risk of suicidal action in those with circumstantial depression. The unfortunate thing is that the very medication that could lower the risk can themselves have suicidal side effects so they need careful monitoring by a doctor.
For those with Circumstantial Depression, help is available – not in mending the circumstances, but in how you deal with your feelings until you can get back on top of life.
There is hope for those with Lifetime Depression, no quick fixes, but the depression can gradually be sent packing, only returning for emergencies!
My heart goes out to all with depression. Lots of Love, Steven