Updated: Oct 20, 2022
I’ve had someone describe depression to me as like waking up in the ocean and swimming leagues before you’re able to reach the shore only to realize that now you have to walk miles through the jungle and hike for hours up a mountain to even be able to see where you want to be. It’s like a never ending fight just to get back in the same zip code as the rest of the waking world only to be told “cheer up, it’ll get better”.
Depression can feel like you’re stuck in a room watching the worst moments of your life play across the television one at a time, unable to control which scenes appear next. One at a time they parade up from the basement of your life, each a grim reminder of the promise “this can happen again, this has happened before”.
Depression is the deep, unnamed feeling that only a short list of songs begin to touch. It’s the stormcloud that seems to hang above every good day and always settle in front of the setting sun. Depression wears a thousand different masks because it looks different for each and every person.
The most clinical definition of depression comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which defines depression by the presence of the following symptoms:
Depressed mood most of the time.
Less interest or pleasure in activities that used to be exciting or important.
Significant weight loss or changes in appetite.
A slowing down of thought or physical movement.
Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt regularly.
Trouble thinking and making decisions.
Thinking about death or dying.
After an amount of time though, one has to wonder “was I always this way?”. Especially in a world full of suffering it can be difficult to determine if feelings of sadness have escalated into depression or are just a natural reaction to the way the world is. Perhaps the next logical question is “will I always be this way?”, or maybe even “this is just the way I am”. Some recent estimates put the number of individuals who will experience depression as high as one in six by the time they are adults. These feelings are by no means uncommon.
Thankfully these aren’t questions you have to solve on your own. Counselors and Mental Health Professionals exist to help you determine if it's seasonal depression, a bad period in your life, or something more. Even more good news, while we can’t take the badness out of the world, counselors and psychologists have been studying these feelings for a while and have a pretty good track record of making things better. Upwards of 80% of individuals experience some improvement in their symptoms according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Traditionally treatment for depression looks like talking about these feelings with a mental health professional but can include a variety of other methods as well. One standout fact that stands with me as a counselor was reading about how poorly some cultures respond to traditional talk therapy. Clients commented on how depressing it was to sit in a dimly lit room and ruminate on all the things gone wrong in their life. Some cultures have long since sought to treat depression by surrounding a community member by loved ones or spending time outdoors celebrating the life they have lived. Getting help doesn’t have to be depressing.
Finding help can be overwhelming but at its heart counseling should be about finding the right fit. Counseling is about finding the person that understands what it is like to be lost at sea, trapped in your own mind, and sure that things will never get any better. Not only that but they’re willing to sit with you in these difficult feelings and take the time you need to work through them. Counseling is about exploring the variety of ways you can work to find joy in life and see past the storm clouds on the horizon.
The poet Rumi wrote:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Sometimes depression comes to us as a messenger that we’re missing something but we don’t know what. At times this message is so loud and overwhelming that it is impossible to see past depression standing at the door. It can feel like you’re stuck in the past, but you don’t have to feel stuck alone. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and see if we can find a treatment that is the right fit for you.
At Full Well Neurofeedback we offer a variety of treatments for depression including counseling, neurofeedback, and yoga. We’re here to celebrate who you are and to help you return to the life that you might feel has passed you by. We hope that you’ll find an attitude that is welcoming of you and your depression, however it looks and however it feels.