What is depression?
Depression can be seen as a state of mind, a broad term which is individual in its origin and manifestation. There are varying levels of depression. When one state of mind dominates the balance required for clear and functional thinking is altered. The degree that this equilibrium is disrupted depends on the amount a particular state of mind or emotion controls.
Depression is subjective just like any emotional manifestation. Depending on where its roots lie and what has led to its occurring. Depression as an umbrella term often overlaps; is hidden by; or masks other emotions. It may be that it is not the only emotion which is dominating you, it might be entwined with fear, anger or anxiety. It does not always show its face. It can often be a blanket which covers the foundation of your mind, so taints every part of your life but does not overtly show itself to the world or maybe even to your conscious self. It can also be a mask to a different state of mind which is far more painful or far more secretive, one which is usually unconsciously known. The different emotions and senses which make up depression is all in relation to you. What triggers it, what feeds it, how it manifests, how it feels is unique as you are. There are similar ways depression manifests, such as the low mood, a negative outlook, a sense of loneliness and loss, a heavy load which feels impossible to lighten.
Varying levels of intensity
We all experience depressive states to varying degrees triggered by internal and external changes and movements which we are sensitive to, such as criticism. Rather than dominating our mind, these depressive states are short lived and fluctuate just as other emotions and states of mind do, with other emotions and senses coming into the forefront to maintain balance such as joy, optimism etc. These are generally experienced as less intense (although they may not feel so at the time) and are often accompanied by an understanding of possibility and alternative options, which at a deeper level is often not present. If depression dominates the state of mind then it has the ability to impact on all parts of your mind, how it thinks, what you see and what you are drawn towards and susceptible to, as well as how you relate; all of which impacts on how you function and behave. If the moment where one state dominates is flittering, then its influence over your mind’s balancing structure is limited.
Whenever a state dominates it can quickly become overwhelming. It stops us from functioning efficiently. We can feel ruled by this state as it gains power and dominance over our previously known states of mind, often feeling like an alien within us which is out of our control.
Indirect Effects of Depression
Depression can cause other emotions, senses and previously held understandings and beliefs to be overpowered, belittled or disappear out of all recognition. They become overpowered and dominated by conflicting and opposing emotions making it more difficult to access them. For example, curiosity, excitement and enjoyment are often effected by states of depression but this does not mean that you don’t have any interests or cannot experience enjoyment, they are just more difficult to feel with other emotions dulling the senses. The dominating state of mind might intensify as well as numb conflicting and rival emotions and thus strip them of their senses.
Other emotions associated with depression are those of stagnation and feeling stuck. It can be a paralysing state similar to that of fear. In depression you are stuck not because you fear what is beyond the wall but because you can’t perceive that anything exists beyond the wall.
Depression often feels like a heavy weight which feels unable to be lifted. Going around in circles with an inability to believe that another state of mind could be experienced again. There is a difficulty to develop and move forward with curiosity being stunted by pain and withdrawal.
Our thinking is directly related to our state of mind impacting on how we internalise and process our experiences. Our basic need (or wish) to survive is often impacted in eating less or more, caring less about our hygiene and how we look. We alter how we function by withdrawing, making our routine more rigid or by welcoming chaos and losing all sense of control as if we are giving up. Ultimately it effects how we relate to ourselves, decreasing self-esteem and self-worth, directly impacting on how we relate to others. Depression is a very isolating state.
One of the biggest struggles is the ability to think of the future and the possibilities which lie ahead, being locked instead in a time warp with an increasing lack of interest and drive in one’s self. One becomes disillusioned with life.
We all have moments where particular states of mind dominate. For some these moments turn into episodes and periods of time where one or a particular state of mind controls one’s behaviour, knocking their ability to function effectively. The more the balance tips to one side the more unstable we become and the harder it gets to regain balance.
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