One of the most difficult experiences of my life has been depression. I can remember being depressed back when I was 13 years old. When I was in the 8th grade, I remember walking around the grass field at Roger’s Junior High in West San Jose, California, USA. It was a very painful time. My whole body felt heavy, hard to move. I felt tired. My head was light, and I was confused. My eyes were blurry. I hurt all over.
Later, I would again suffer from depression, and I have learned much about depression over the years. When I feel any depressed feelings now, I am highly motivated to feel better as soon as possible. I really hate depression. I do whatever it takes to feel better. Some people describe depression as being numb. Dr. David Hawkins writes that if we live long enough, most of us experience depression at some time in our life. It could be minor, as in regret, or major, as in mourning a death or losing something considered valuable.
Depression is a disorder of mood and bonding. It is a disorder related to our current relationships. One can withdraw socially at any stage of life due to poor bonding with parents as a child and poor social skills. If we have a marriage or another intimate relationship with poor communication and bonding, we can experience depression. Living in a family that is highly dysfunctional with violence or substance abuse can contribute to depression. Working in a job that is a poor fit in terms of interests, personality, or values can contribute to depression. Dealing with additional life stressors can trigger a depressive episode, like divorce, death, financial losses, and health problems.
In Los Gatos, California, psychiatrist and Stanford University medical school professor, Saad A. Shakir, MD, sees patients at his clinic. He said that depression is one of the chief reasons that people go to see a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or a counselor. Clients make it into therapy often long after the depression began. Over time, depression progresses into a phase that makes it much more difficult to ignore, because the depressive symptoms are affecting one’s marriage or work.
With treatment, often a person’s mood elevates and they feel some relief. But patients are often discharged from counseling without achieving sustained relief from the symptoms of low energy, sadness, troubled sleep, disrupted eating, poor concentration, and feelings of worthlessness consistently and for a long time, called Sustainable Remission from depression.
Dr. Shakir states that few patients receive adequate treatment for depression. Inadequately treated depression may get worse over time and may be associated with negative changes in the physical brain and how the brain works. Fortunately, the mind can change the brain. The brain has neuroplasticity. Our thoughts and feelings change our physical brain.
The Work Health Organization and the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatment assert that it is important for mental health professionals to competently assess and treat depressive and anxiety disorders to full remission. In the Australian and New Zealand clinical guidelines it states that “the aim of treatment is to achieve and maintain remission.”
It is possible to experience vitality after having experienced depression. Recovery from depression is important in our health, relationships, and career. If one is willing to do the healthy work of depression much is possible. Please watch this video on being proactive in recovery from depressive symptoms: