Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Nature of Depression From a Gestalt Therapy Perspective

Depression is one of the most common, yet still one of the most misunderstood of human states of mind. It can be debilitating and frightening, both for the sufferer and for those around them. Let us differentiate though between depressive feelings and true depression. We associate depression with feelings of sadness, emptiness, anxiety, helplessness, worthlessness and guilt. It may cause irritability, problems with sleeping, problems with eating, problems making decisions or concentrating and an inability to feel pleasure; even when undertaking activities which were once enjoyable. Physical manifestations caused by depression may include insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains or digestive problems; which often prove to be resistant to conventional medical treatments.

It is normal to have depressive feelings sometimes in our lives. In fact you will often hear people say, "I feel depressed" when something terrible or unwanted has happened. Normally, depressive feelings resolve with time, usually when the person's situation improves somehow. Such feelings are then a normal part of life. Sometimes though, these feelings persist and that is when depressive feelings have become depression proper. Conventional medical theory requires that such depressive feelings persist for more than 2 weeks, in order for a diagnosis of depression to be made. If some of you have ever wondered what the difference between normal depression and clinical depression are, the answer is there is no difference; clinical depression is merely depression that has been medically recognized i.e. termed as such by a doctor.

We are not concerned about the medical recognition of our depression. You know when you are suffering from a depressed mood or not, you do not need someone else to tell you. What you do need is to learn how to cope with depressive feelings so that you may return to happiness again. The restoration to a state of happiness is, as far as I am concerned the aim of any psychotherapy treatment for depression.

Some have said that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain, this is true to a point; but the imbalance is caused by the experienced feelings of unhappiness. Like some physical conditions caused by abusing the body, such as heart disease and lung cancer by smoking, depression is a condition which is caused by abusing the mind with negative feelings. Depression also be a result of other conditions worsening, such as stress or anxiety, it is therefore important to get on top of negative emotions right from the start. As depression in all of its degrees is the worst emotional state a human being can be in.

If you had to some up exactly what part of you depression affects the most then what would you say? It may be that you would say your mind, and that would be partly true. But we need to look even deeper than this; depression causes us to experience both physical and mental pain which penetrates to the very core of our being. A while ago someone I know very well said something to me which I feel truly sums up the nature of depression, they said "When I am depressed my body doesn't hurt and neither does my mind. What really hurts is my soul." Depression then touches an area that others can't see, that why they may simply tell you to "Pull yourself together!" or "Snap out of it!" It's not that easy, and that is because depression is a disorder of your feelings. Not a disorder as in a mental disorder, which is not what I am saying, but a disorder because everything within our emotions becomes jumbled by how we feel. Feelings are the cause, emotions are the reaction.

Though the trigger of depression may be something from the outside world, the depression itself is something that is going on in a person's internal world. When our internal world is in turmoil, we cannot step properly into the world that is outside. As when all is said and done, what you are really left with is what is inside you. It is from this inside world where your happiness originates, if you can be happy in here then you can be happy everywhere.

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