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Talking About Depression

Talking About Depression


Nov 2015


Based on the most recent census, 1 in every 3 Americans suffers from some form of depression.  These high numbers are largely due to the fact that depression can present as both a personality disorder and an emotional one.  As a result, while far less people may suffer from a truly diagnosed chronic depression, many individuals still experience acute depressions that may be a factor of life circumstances.

Depression As A Mental Illness

Clinically, depression is categorized as a personality disorder that exhibits specific characteristics of hopelessness and deep sadness.  However, emotional depression is still determined by the same criteria, although the addition of circumstantial and experiential factors is also in diagnosis.  Also, in these cases it is not deemed a personality disorder in the same way, as it is not seen as a chronic occurrence.

Depression that is clinical can also have a basis in chemical imbalances within the brain.  The lack of neurotransmitters or receptors can greatly impact emotional response, and this can be the basis for the personality disorder.  Treatment with medications can provide considerable relief in these situations, but patients and family members should also learn about possible side effects.

Overall, addressing depression should begin with professional assessments, as this can provide a clearer picture of the scope of the condition.  However, one of the primary difficulties in seeking help for either the self or family members with depression is that there is such a stigma on the concept of a mental illness.  In this way, it can be important to initiate a dialogue based on emotional exchange, in order to humanize the condition and steer away from the negative implications of mental illness.

Often, this type of dialogue can also establish that stress relief can become a significant factor in combating acute depression.  By exploring variables within a person’s life that influence their health and wellness behaviors, one can gain a portrait of the depressed personality as a confluence of circumstances.  In this way, factors that contribute to stress may be identified as contributors to the depressed state, and this allows for a healing intervention to be put in place.

The use of stress relief methods have shown to significantly impact acute depression in a positive manner.  Practices including:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Biofeedback
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Journaling

These are all beneficial for addressing depression that has an underlying cause in stress and anxiety.  Further, many of these practices also offer a sense of purpose in life, which can greatly improve emotional outlook and a sense of hope.

Therapy And Depression

Therapy can be particularly effective with many cases of depression, especially acute forms that relate to stress and anxiety.  However, therapy for individuals who have depression as a personality disorder can also include medication regimens as well as counseling sessions.  This can also make it important for individuals seeking help to understand some basics about the therapeutic relationship.

It is not at all uncommon for patients to experience difficulties in therapy, especially when first starting sessions or treatment.  Part of the reason for the difficulties is simply that the individual is being asked to delve into deep emotional work that can result in change, and that prospect can raise a sense of fear towards the unknown.  Another issue that can cause difficulties is a lack of alignment between patient, therapy, and therapist.

One important point to bear in mind is that not all forms of therapy for depression follow the same base theories.  There are often similarities, and this leads many counselors to take a more integrative approach, by basing the therapeutic practice on the needs of the individual.  However, some counselors can be very attached to specific approaches, and while this may work for some patients, it may not work for others.

This also speaks the concept that even in therapy sessions which are meant to remain objective, the personalities of the participants will show through.  This can be a major cause of difficulties when therapists and their patients are simply following different goal trajectories.  Unfortunately, this can be highly detrimental, especially as many people with depression do have difficulties with acceptance/rejection, self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness towards the future.

Conversely, therapy that fits the patient and counselors who are in alignment with client needs can provide strong benefits for people with depression.  In cases where the condition is a learned response, the use of cognitive behavioral therapy can allow for significant personal changes in thinking, action, and perspective.  This also applies for people with stress induced depression, although the use of prioritization and goal setting can be another powerful form of therapy.

Finally, one of the greatest benefits that therapy provides is that it is an outlet for emotional discourse.  For individuals who are suffering from depression, private therapy sessions can also generate a safe space for releasing emotional blocks and healing wounds.  Group sessions for therapy can have powerful benefits through the mutual sharing of understanding, but also through peer support with difficult times or in providing resources for positive coping mechanisms.

Dealing With Depression

Talking To Family Members With Depression

Addressing the subject of depression can be an extremely difficult task, especially as many people are unsure of what things to say and things not to say.  This does greatly relate back to the stigma that can be associated with mental illness and emotional conditions, but it can also be a factor of the emotions that the loved one is feeling in talking to a family member with depression.

Although identifying depression throughout different age ranges is helpful in aiding the person in need of help, sometimes family members of these people will react to that emotional hurt with other emotions that may not be conducive to healing.  This can include reactions such as:

  • Just get over it
  • You just want attention
  • Just choose to be happy
  • It’s just a phase
  • It can’t be that bad
  • You’re just whining

All of these types of reactions invalidate the family members with depression and further reinforce the experiential stimulus that informs depressive perspectives and expectations.  Positive and empathic conversations become a better gateway into the causality of the depression, and also open dialogues that can lead to actual healing for everyone.

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