"It's Like A Dark Cloud That Wont Go Away"
Depression is one of the most challenging, yet one of the most common psychiatric disorders. Different from popular belief, it is not prolonged sadness. Sadness is a normal and expected part of being alive and human, depression is not. Depression is actually not an emotion, it is a state of mind in which emotions are being suppressed. To "depress" something literally means to push something down.
Underneath the surface of "depression" there is often internalized anger, helplessness, regret, disappointment, self-criticism, unworthiness, meaninglessness, fear, or fatigue from prolonged anxiety underneath a depressed state. We have also noticed that depression occurs when people are disconnected or not meaningfully connected to others. In more relationally oriented depression, relationships patterns and habits need to be worked out as well as the early, underlying relational templates involved. Depression is not a discrete disorder in and of itself but a signal on the dashboard of your life. It's time to talk to someone.
In terms of the signs on the dash here's what to look for. Although unique to each person, there are some common experiences to depression. One of the most prominent symptoms is called "Anhedonia" or the inability to experience pleasure. Things you once enjoyed just seem dull and bland, your motivation is zapped, and you find yourself wanting to isolate or be alone. Those who seek help for depression often report feeling "like a black cloud is always hovering over me" and are burdened by excessive guilt. Changes in appetite and sleep are often common too. In fact, difficulty falling asleep and/or waking up early in the morning without being able to fall back asleep are common early symptoms of a depressive episode. Excessive fatigue, irritability, feelings of emptiness, and difficulty concentrating are other common complaints. Those suffering from depression often notice that it has become a habit of mind to ruminate on the past and find it incredibly difficult to remain present.
Good news is, it is easily treatable! This is a process that works. We have helped many face their depression and the issues underpinning the symptoms. Many report a sense of regaining their old vitality (or find it for the first time). Don't wait until it takes over your life, the earlier you seek help, the better off you will be and the more likely you will be able to avoid depressive episodes in the future. The research is consistent on this.