How to Get Help for Depression, 1
So, how to get help for depression, when it’s a little like Proteus, the ancient Greek sea god: a shape-shifter right from the word, “Go?”
In the Odyssey, Ulysses and his companions try to lay hold of Proteus, and he continually changes shape, again and again — a formidable foe to try and tie down. Depression can appear in so many shapes and forms it can be hard to know just how to get hold of it. Where should you turn to get a handle on depression?
Many in our society might jump to the conclusion right away that the kind of help one needs for depression is an antidepressant. There are countless others who feel that the only real help for depression would be an antidepressant, but who are determined to never “become dependent” on a pill so they suffer on endlessly, never getting any substantial help.
Antidepressants have their place, and they may be of significant help, but there is strong evidence that, with many kinds of depression, the best approach is to combine antidepressants with case studies.
Psychotherapy Genuinely Helps
There is a strong body of evidence showing that case studies is effective in allieviating depression. But, a very important question to ask here, is effective at what?
Often, depression has key symptoms. For instance, it can show itself via insomnia, or via its complete opposite, continual tiredness. Similarly, it can show itself through complete loss of appetite, or through a dramatic increase in appetite. Or through lowered self-esteem.
Such symptoms can be very distressing. Quite naturally, the person suffering from such symptoms is eager to have them gone, and seeks treatment, of one kind of another that reduces, or, where possible, eliminates the symptoms.
Yet, depression is not identical with these symptoms. Very often at the core of depression are some fundamental issues in the inner life of the person, and in the unconscious.
As Jungian Prof. Andrew Samuels of Essex reminds us, analytical psychologists often metaphorically image depression as a damming up of energy in the psyche.
This “damming” is often caused by a major underlying conflict or life problem. If the “dam” can be broken, the energy released often greatly assists in solving the particular life problem.
Often, this “damming up” occurs as the result of conflicts or issues that have begun in early life, and been with the individual ever since. However, it may also stem from specific decisions made or paths chosen by the individual in his or her later life.
The experience of this kind of “damming” or conflict opening up can have a life-giving, liberating effect on the individual.
Among the most significant situations in the life journey where depression can be a big issue are these:
Major Life Transitions
Major emotional blockages are often activated when an individual of any age undergoes a major life change, such as moving to a new place, changing jobs, loss of job, illness, marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one — the list goes on. Depression may often contain a conflict or a life pain associated with these events, but also an energy that can help in dealing with them, if we can get to its core, and understand it.
Similarly, the transitions that occur at mid-life, which can take many shapes for an individual. Often at the heart of it all in the midlife passage is a very substantial depression, and, if we can enter into that depression and understand it, we can understand the various elements seeking to emerge in the individual’s midlife journey.
Depression in Later Life
Depression is not uncommon for those in the second half of life. It can be associated with increased limitations in lifestyle, loss of a loved one, illness of various kinds, loneliness, decreased ability to look after oneself — and many other factors. Carefully exploring such depression in the context of case studies may release long-standing unresolved conflicts and blockages, and free energy for living in new possibilities that add meaning and vitality to life at this stage.
In my next post, we’ll be looking at depression in more detail in all these stages of life, and how to get help for depression through effective /a-midlife-transition.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst