Depression can sometimes be one of those creeping states of mind, body, and spirit that you don’t realize has come over you until you’re deep into the muck of it. Digging yourself out at that point is certainly possible—but who can think of such things when you’re filled with despair and sadness? Even when the depression is accompanied by anxiety, often it’s the kind of anxiety that leads to more worrying rather than to taking action. In this state, it’s all you can do to recognize you need help, let alone commit to a course of treatment with a therapist.
Treatment for depression can take many forms, and psychotherapy is one of many approaches to take, depending on the roots and symptoms (or even projected successful outcomes!) of anyone’s particular kind of depression. One of the first steps, however, is to check with your medical provider and rule out any physical or organic causes (e.g., hormonal) for your depression. After that, it’s worth looking into the causes of these feelings, even if they’re only the normal ups and downs of everyday life.
Other treatments include antidepressants and other psychotropic medications, and while I cannot prescribe them, I can certainly evaluate my clients’ need for them, as well as monitor their effectiveness over time. Antidepressants can provide much-needed relief and even prevent a deepening of the depression. However, much like giving analgesics for a broken arm, they can kill the pain, but they won’t heal the wound. Along with antidepressants, consider also natural and holistic means of finding relief through mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and various healing herbs.
Psychological treatment for depression can run the gamut from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to psychodynamic inquiry into the deep roots of mood disorders. Another approach I find very fruitful is one outlined years ago by Viktor Frankl in his masterwork “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In this work, Frankl describes how happiness is achieved not by deciding what will make you happy and “just going for it,” but for deciding on a higher purpose for your life, and in having your life mean something. Surprise—along comes happiness! Frankl called this kind of therapy “logotherapy,” from the Greek word “logos,” or “meaning.” Finding your meaning in life allows happiness to arrive as a natural outgrowth of something bigger in life, and with this approach, the depression begins to lift. While I am not a certified logotherapist, I do find this same element of finding meaning helpful in alleviating depression and anxiety, in identity development, dealing with artistic blocks, even in recovery from alcoholism and addiction.
In depression, as in other psychological states, symptom relief is one thing, but wound healing is often another. Here again the psychotherapist helps you hone in on the upsetting event, memory, thought, or feeling that lies underneath the depression. In fact, the depression is usually a symptom and manifestation of something else untended to in the psyche. Finding its role in the meaning of your life helps you put the depression into perspective, helps you lift your eyes to hopefulness, gives you a reason to climb out of that funk.
If you are ready to explore these or any other issues with a caring, experienced therapist, please call or email David Bowman to arrange for a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Your mental health is worth it. Call (323) 561-2361.
Photo credit: Noah Silliman UNSPLASH