If anxiety is the ‘heads’ on a coin, then depression is the ‘tails’ on that same coin. They are related to one another in the mood system, and often occur together. When persistent and intrusive to normal life, they are referred to as ‘Affective Disorders’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.
Like the treatment for anxiety, the effective treatment of depression involves developing a good understanding of what the mood of depression is, and what it is related to. We also must accept that depression is normal to human life. Like death and taxes, no one escapes it.
There is situational depression, which the is the low mood associated with unfortunate experiences: a death, a car wreck, a bad grade, a bounced check. Usually, this clears up within a short period of time, and especially so when shared with someone who can help.
Then there is the depression we think of when we see the commercials for anti-depressants we see on TV. This is mild, moderate, severe, and acute. Mild depression dogs many, but they have adjusted somewhat, and can live fairly well with it. Moderate means the person has fairly frequent ‘blue Mondays’ and experiences not infrequent loss of productivity, relationship disturbance, and occasional attacks of true despair. Obviously, severe and acute depression are dangerous. The person is without hope, considers suicide a viable option, is unable to function normally. This is when professional intervention is absolutely required, but tragically, is too often overlooked. All of the above can be related to misfortune or loss, but not always.
In my treatment for depression, rather than working straightforwardly to try and help the patient ‘feel better’, I find it far more helpful to work to form a relationship with the patient in which they are not obliged to be anything but what they are-meaning, sad, depressed, frustrated, helpless, angry, whatever.
It is my belief that the formation of a strong relationship in which a person feels truly understood and gets a grasp of what her suffering is all about is anti-depressant in itself. The depressed person has long struggled to be understood, only to frighten those around her who only want her to ‘feel better’.
When called for, I enlist the services of competent psychiatrist to help with medication, but that is only when called for. Treatment for depression can often be effective with therapy only.
As with anxiety therapy, treatment for depression can lead to a better understanding and acceptance of oneself. I welcome the opportunity to help with that.