What is depression?
The causes and symptoms of depression are not necessarily obvious nor related. For example, we might be the life and soul of the party but still suffer from depression. Those who suffer from depression may share similar manifestations and symptoms but their origins and constitution of depression will not necessarily be the same.
What does it feel like?
Depression can be a state which has always been present and which you have a predisposition to. It can also be initiated by an internal or external experience of trauma. Depression is linked to a sense of loss, although not a hereditary element. What this sense of loss means and how it is experienced is different with every individual. It might feel like a void, an abyss, a nothingness which can numb you. For others it is more feeling dominated with a relentless experience of pain. An often isolating state which can be founded on not being good enough or things not being enough.
Common Manifestations of Depression
There are four broad ways in which depression manifests that I have experienced as a Psychotherapist.
1. The Controlled & The Manic: A punishing grueling routine of superficial movement and procrastination with the intention of filling up time. An outward expression of constant business, too little time, too much to do.
2. The Withdrawn: A withdrawal from the outside world which ironically internally feels that you are tied to this life and not allowed to let go. An outward expression of isolation, withdrawn, indifferent and/or filled with sadness.
3. The Mask: Constant switching of who you present to the outside world and the real person within. A feeling of being lost, misunderstood and unseen.
4. The Emotional: An erratic whirlwind of emotions unable to be controlled. Feeling like being pushed from pillar to post. A constant wish for relief which is seeked by externally projecting overwhelming emotions (pain, anger etc.) onto someone else. Rage, despair anger, sadness forever loom. An outward expression swings between that of anger and great distress.
Different intensities of depression, how it manifests (complete withdrawal, hyperactivity, despair) and how long it lasts (moments, episodes and periods) will impact on how much concrete coping mechanisms will help the individual. These practical ways of dealing with depression are not necessarily solutions but they might lift the intensity of the moment, lessen the load/pressure felt and help you manage being/living in this state of mind
- Getting out even if you don’t directly interact with people can allow for a decrease in the intensity of the state of mind. Distractions, other thoughts and experiences will have an impact on this, forcing you to think and function differently on a more cognitive level.
- Sharing how you are feel with a professional can reduce the pressure of depression, by offering a holding space which looks for understanding and encourages internal processing, a place where one can feel not alone.
- Exercise can counteract the experience of pain through hormonal and chemical changes.
- Putting thoughts out into the world onto paper through art, writing, or singing allows your voice to escape through the prison bars. This personal expression provides a sense of containment which is fluid and individual. It creates movement of thoughts and can encourage alternative thinking.
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