Journeying Toward Wholeness

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How to Get Help for Depression, 2

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.

help for depression
 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.

help for depression


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;
  • divorce
  • 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.

Midlife Transition

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.

help for depression

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

help for depression

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

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© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Mandela, Hope & Lasting Help for Depression

December 9th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

Lasting help for depression is closely tied to hope, and symbols of hope are among our greatest treasures.

help for depression

This week saw the passing of Nelson Mandela, who was an incredible symbol of hope for much of the human race.  The unbelievable intensity of the gratitude to Mandela as a figure of reconciliation is a living testament of the power and vital necessity of hope for the human psyche.

Real Hope Is Not A Pep Talk

The world is full of voices telling us that positive thinking  can create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness. Such messages abound.  But are they really sustaining?

Nelsen Mandela spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island and elsewhere.  Viktor Frankl, the famous existential psychiatrist endured the Dachau camp while virtually all of his family were murdered at Auschwitz.  Can we possibly think that mere positive thinking and the “law of attraction” allowed such individuals to endure?  Here is something much deeper in the person than mere positive thinking, or indeed, than thinking at all.

The Tune Without the Words

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
-Emily Dickenson

Dickenson’s words point us toward the true nature of hope, as that which “perches in the soul”, beyond the reach of reasoning, beyond the reach of language.  But if we are to experience help for depression from hope of this deep type, which comes from our depths — we have to know our own soul.


In Jung’s words, hope is one of

…[those] highest achievements of human endeavour… [which] are neither to be taught nor learned, neither given nor taken, neither withheld nor earned, since they come through experience….  Experiences cannot be made.  They happen — yet fortunately… we can draw closer to them….  

The way to experience… is anything but a clever trick: it is rather a venture which requires us to commit ourselves with our whole being.

Jung urges us to find hope by drawing closer to, and accepting our fundamental experiences, and, with them, our own nature and identity.

help for depression

Often the roots of depression can be found in our inability to accept our own experience, and our true selves.  Whether in childhood, or later life, the individual may internalize the message that his or her experience is unimportant, and that, in fact, he or she is really not important.  Such experience can lead to the death of hope.

Conversely genuine self acceptance is linked to the individual fostering basic trust in his or her life, to hope, and to our awareness of the existence of possibility.  As the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard put it:

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.  

Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating… as possibility!

 Hope and Lasting Help for Depression

help for depression

From a Jungian perspective, individual depth psychotherapy assists in the recovery of the natural and instinctive self, which is the natural source of our most basic sense of hope.   The journey of individual therapy toward this hope can be fundamental in bringing lasting help for depression.

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© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Key Factors in Lasting Help for Depression: #1 – Depth

October 27th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

“Where can I find lasting help for depression?”  This is a question on the minds of many.

help for depression

It is a matter of great importance for those who are active in their seeking to obtain help for depression.  Individuals don’t want to receive help that will make a difference just in the short term.  They are seeking help for depression that is going to make a fundamental change through the course of their lives.

Lasting Benefit

Studies of groups are certainly not the last word in the search for individual healing and wholeness.  Neither can any one study’s results be seen as definitive. Nonetheless, a recent study by Prof. Dorothea Huber of the Technische Universität München and her colleagues on the benefits of help for depression is quite striking.  That study showed that the benefits from psychodynamic psychotherapy persisted and were experienced 3 or more years out from the time of the therapy.

Psychodynamic therapy, also known as depth psychotherapy, refers to those forms of therapy that concern themselves with the unconscious mind of the individual and its processes–what’s going on deep in the mind of the individual.  And that’s part of the reason why, for many individuals, the benefits from psychodynamic therapy persist.

A Shift at a Fundamental Level

In forms of depth psychotherapy like Jungian therapy, there is an emphasis in focusing on what is going on in the individual at quite a deep level.  In this kind of approach, a great deal rests on what may be going on at the deepest levels of the individual, which are often in the unconscious mind.

In the Jungian approach in particular, the individual, and the unique characteristics of his or her life are given particular significance.  In the following video, I read a passage from Jungian analyst June Singer that expresses this with great clarity:



Depression and the Unconscious Self

For the depth psychotherapist, help for depression is inextricably bound up with a person’s unique individuality and the reality of the unconscious mind.  From this perspective, depression is fundamentally related to the ways in which an individual’s vitality and spontaneity become locked inside them, as a result of the various wounds that are experienced in life, and also as a result of dilemmas in the present that may appear as insoluble to  the  person from a conscious perspective.  As James Hollis states,

Depression can feel like a well with no bottom, but from a Jungian perspective

intrapsychic depression is a well with a bottom,

although we may have to dive very deeply to find it.

help for depression

Diving Deep

From a Jungian perspective, lasting help for depression is to be found in the inward journey, and in bringing into contact with consciousness those energies within us which, for whatever reason, have become walled off.  Individual psychotherapy from a depth perspective can often be a powerful factor in the recovery of the natural and instinctive self, and in opening up an understanding of the meaning of my depression.  This type of change can be a fundamental element in lasting help for depression.


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© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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3 Big Surprises about Help for Depression in Summer

July 6th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

It might seem very strange to focus on help for depression in summer, when summer itself is supposed to help lift depression.

help for depression

But here’s the thing: for many people–it doesn’t.

In our culture, we hold up the icon of summer as a time of playful hedonism, typified by this classic song by Mungo Jerry:

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1. Summer Doesn’t Actually Make Everything O.K.

But for some who struggle with depression, the high summer can actually make things worse.  Season affective disorder, known as SAD, is common knowledge nowadays.  Canadians tend to associate it with the cold and short days of winter.  However, as the Mayo Clinic notes, and as research from India shows, SAD can be associated with oppressive summer heat.

That school is out can also contribute to depression for parental figures who find themselves at home with kids for whole days, day after day.  Also, teachers and college professors can find themselves subject to depression when, after a busy, demanding year, they suddenly find themselves at home with large expanses of time.

2.  The Symbol of the Burning Sun

For depth psychotherapy, another aspect of summer depression involves the symbolism of the summer sun at its most intense.  When the summer sun is at its most direct, and sweltering, it can make everything seem stark, bleak and lifeless.

The ancients used to refer to the experience of the sun in this bleak, piercing way as the “sol niger” — Latin for the “black sun”.  Below is an example of how they might typically have portrayed or symbolized it.

help for depression

Sometimes, for modern people, too, the hot sweltering high summer sun can symbolize or highlight experiences of bleakness, starkness or joylessness in our lives.

Could it be that the intensity of the sweltering sun symbolizes or highlights aspects of our lives that we might experience as bleak? Could it reveal our over-thinking, over-driveness, workaholism, excessive win-at-all costs intensity; or obsessiveness?

help for depression


3.  Other Summer Stressors

There are other stressors not directly related to the weather that can find us out in summer.

Summer can be a time of particular financial stress.  Activities such as vacations can take a great deal of money.  We can easily find ourselves in financial crunches related to summer plans — and sometimes, when we stop and ask ourselves, “Do I even really want to be doing this stuff?”,  a surprising answer may come back: “No!  I actually don’t!”

There’s a tide of collective sentiment that a certain way of spending the summer is what we really need to do if we want life to be fulfilling.  We may even end up saying  “I’m Supposed to be Having Fun, dammit!  What’s wrong with me?”

But it may well be that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me, and that, at the deepest level, I just want to live life in accord with my own nature.

Acceptance of the true self is a key part of the journey towards wholeness, and of genuine help for depression through meaningful individual therapy.

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© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


Five Ways Help for Depression Involves “the Real Me”

June 10th, 2013 · depression, help for depression

If I’m going to get help for depression that really makes a difference, I’m going to need to come to terms with the real me.

help for depression

Self understanding and self acceptance are often key elements in lasting, long-term help for depression.

1.  Personal Experience of Depression

Depression is an extremely varied and complex thing.  It manifests very differently in different people.

It’s essential for an individual to understand how depression has appeared in his or her unique life.

Truly effective long term help for depression begins with awareness of how this condition is rooted in the unique circumstances of the individual.

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2.  Depression Has an Unconscious Aspect

Very often, there’s more than meets the eye in an individual’s depression.  Likely, we don’t know everything about how our depression affects us and where it comes from.  To uncover that often entails genuine exploration both of how it came to be in our lives, and also of the present situations where we feel “stuck” in the middle of insoluble dilemmas of which we are often only at best partially conscious.

help for depression


3.  Depression is Individual “Life Pressed Down”

James Hollis takes us back to the literal meaning of the word depression:

Think of what the word means literally, to de-press, to press down.  What is “pressed down”?  Life’s energy, life’s intentionality, life’s teleology is pressed down, thwarted, denied, violated… [S]omething in us colludes with it. Life is warring against life….

For “life’s energy, life’s intentionality, life’s teleology” to be pressed down or thwarted means for me in some fundamental sense to not be allowing who I really am to emerge.  I need to explore the unique situations and things in my individual story where that is occurring.  What in me is keeping me back?

4.  Depression, Anxiety, Self-Awareness

Part of the help for depression that I may need is to become aware of the ways  which my depression may be related to my anxiety.

EXAMPLE:  “Lisa” is depressed, because her life dream to be an artist is slipping away.  However, to realize that dream would mean dealing with the anxiety created by disappointing her family, who point proudly to her career as an actuary.  She finds herself “stuck” between the anxiety and the depression.  Perhaps the only way forward for Lisa is to accept that she will never win the approval from her family that she has always sought, and to move into what she wants for her life.

5.  Hand in Hand with the Real Me

Help for depression that makes a real difference involves individual therapy that keeps bringing me back to myself, to my own story, and to my own unique being.  As Hollis again says, “It takes great courage to value depression, to respect it… to go down into the depression and find our soul’s greatest treasure.”

help for depression

Often, our own fundamental nature lies at the bottom of depression.  Only when we are prepared, like Orpheus, to venture to the bottom of that underworld, can we find our sense of real aliveness.

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© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)



3 Reasons to Seek More that Just “Help for Depression”

May 26th, 2013 · depression, 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.

help for depression

Here are 3 key reasons why this is true.

1. Human Beings are Not Modular

help for depression

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.

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