February 16th, 2015 · help for depression
In the last post, we started to look at how to get help for depression through depth psychotherapy; here we’ll look more at how depression impacts us in key life situations and how we can begin to journey through it.
Here are three types of life situations where depression may have a large impact on the life of the individual.
Major Life Transitions
Major life transitions can be of such great significance that indigenous peoples often use the symbol of death and rebirth or other equally dramatic symbolism to characterize what is happening to the individual as he or she undergoes such transformations.
Here’s a more extensive list of some circumstances that are major life transitions:
- moving to a new location
- entering the workforce
- marital breakup
- changes or realizations about sexual identity
- job loss
- major illness
- career transition
- religious crises
- aging or death of a parent;
- loss of a loved one; or
- major illness or disability in a child.
There are many, many others that could be listed.
Events of this type can lead to depression in the individual. Often that depression can be rooted in ways that the core of the individual has experienced wounding or has met with indifference at key points earlier in life.
An individual confronting midlife transition, or midlife crisis may well be confronted with a significant depression. An individual at or around the middle of life may find that the things in life which once gave energy and motivation now seem entirely and unexpectedly gray. Occupation, family life, religious commitments, hobbies, friendships, and even family relationships can be entirely bleached of their vitality and meaning. Sometimes people will describe this situation as akin to travelling through a waterless wasteland or desert, or a frozen Arctic landscape.
The individual’s particular make up, and his or her specific life experience will strongly influence how depression may manifest, and its impact on the individual. Only by discerning one’s unique personhood, and finding what is seeking to emerge in one’s life will the individual start to move out of depression on any lasting and authentic basis.
Depth psychology views depression related to midlife transition as rooted in the individual’s unconscious. Often, only when the unconscious is made more conscious, and the undiscovered self of the individual is brought closer to the conscious self, can energy from the depression start to transform into vitality, passion, desire to move more into life, and purpose.
Depression in Later Life
Individuals moving through the second half of life encounter genuine difficulties and challenges. Often, these concern physical illness or disability, mobility restrictions, illness or loss of significant others, restrictions on independence, loneliness, financial concerns, and a range of other factors. As a result of these factors, and of many more, it is not uncommon for people in the second half of life to experience depression.
There are many issues that can pertain to opening up depression when it appears in the lives of older people. Often, as with midlife issues, much may center on connecting with important elements of the person that are coming up from the unconscious and seeking connection with the conscious portion of the person (the ego). There can be many unresolved issues that remain from earlier stages in life, and that also have to do with connection with others, and with value, meaning and purpose. Often, the sense of connection with something larger is important.
The Individuality of Depression
As Marion Woodman reminds us, depth psychotherapy stays in the awareness that, to move through depression, we must truly be in contact with our individual being — particularly our own feeling. Through in-depth connection with our true selves in an open and self-compassion manner, we move into true, lasting — and highly individual — help for depression.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst