3 Reasons to Seek More that Just “Help for Depression”
It’s essential for someone to seek help for depression but a person experiencing situational depression may well need more than treatment of depression symptoms.
Here are 3 key reasons why this is true.
1. Human Beings are Not Modular
In today’s world, we’re all too ready to use the metaphor of a computer to understand the human mind. But it’s essential when considering depression to realize the ways in which the human individual is definitely not like a computer.
If something goes wrong with a computer — say, for instance, that the computer’s memory or hard drive fails — it’s a relatively easy matter to take out the particular component that has failed and replace it .
But humans are not modular! When a human suffers from a situational depression, help for depression does not consist in removing a defective “module” and replacing it with a non-depressed element. Similarly, an exclusive and laser-like focus on the symptoms of depression is not likely to take in the whole picture of what is going on with the individual.
Depression is connected in many important ways to the whole of the self.
2. Sometimes Depression Has to be Entered Into
To understand what is happening in the life of someone who is subject to situational depression, it’s often essential to actually listen to the depression–to genuinely understand where it’s coming from, what it means, and to clarify the feelings that underly it.
Metaphorically, we may speak of depression as representing a damming up of psychic energy, as Andrew Samuels tells us, which, when it is released, may take on a positive and life-giving direction.
3. “The Empty Stillness That Precedes Creative Work”
Depression can often be connected to a kind of regression and regeneration. We have a tendency to think of regression as a bad thing, but sometimes the individual’s energy goes into the unconscious, because something profound is changing for the individual — if only he or she can become aware of it.
There are moments in human life when a new page is turned. New interests and tendencies appear, which have hitherto received no attention, or there is a sudden change of personality. During the incubation period of such a change, we can often observe a loss of conscious energy…. This lowering of energy can be seen most clearly… in the empty stillness that precedes creative work.
C.G. Jung, CW 16, para. 373
EXAMPLE: An IT consultant goes into a severe depression, and realizes that he simply can’t consult anymore. He goes through a prolonged period of listlessness and introspection, after which he gives up the IT field and starts a business related to the fine arts, and divides his spare time evenly between socializing with his friends and writing. His life is oriented in a whole new direction, but he could never have found it without confronting the feelings and longings at the heart of his depression.
True help for depression takes account of the symptoms, but looks at the meaning of the depression for the whole person.
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)