Signs, Themes & Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a complex psychological condition. In fact, depression has an effect on many aspects of our inner lives, which are then reflected in our external world, such as the world of our work, studies, relationships, families.
Depression can totally disrupt our lives, yet it is invisible – this can make it hard to talk about it.
Depression affects all levels of our being, including our thinking, our feeling world, our bodies, our behaviours and actions – what we do – and might not be able to do. These different aspects of depression (thinking, feeling, our bodies and behaviours) are all interconnected and influence each other.
For example, what affects our bodies often affects our minds, which in turn affects our feelings. There is a complex interplay between these different layers.
On the physical level, we often experience a lack of energy, exhaustion, feeling tired and generally slowed down. Often people describe having lost their vitality, life force, life juice and zest for life, and with that their motivation to do things and engage with the world.
Also, depression can affect our sleeping and eating patterns, we can sleep or eat too much or not enough. While some people feel sluggish, others might feel very restless, and often there are difficulties with concentration as well.
On a thinking level, depression is marked by negative thinking patterns. Depressed people tend to ruminate a lot. Depressed thinking is characterised by black and white thinking, rather than being able to recognise the nuances and different shades of things. There is a real difficulty to direct the mind towards new thoughts, new ideas and possibilities.
Depressed thinking is strongly associated with a psychic structure within our minds that we call the inner critic, the super ego, or the inner judge. This part of our minds tends to be shaming, blaming and judging.
On the feeling level, depression is marked by feeling low – life tends to feel empty and joyless.
Some people feel so low and depressed that they cannot get out of bed, while others are managing and juggling their work and responsibilities, while feeling unhappy inside. Depression is also associated with feelings of loneliness, sadness, guilt, shame, anger, and a sense of worthlessness.
Many people I have worked with, have described feeling emotionally numb, emotionally frozen, empty, or disconnected inside, which tends to alternate with feeling overwhelmed with difficult feeling states.
Underlying this is a real difficulty to experience, to identify and to articulate feeling states – so, there is a real difficulty in being able to regulate and manage our feelings .
When psychologically working with a person who is depressed, one core dimension is about facilitating the person’s capacity to self regulate. Self-regulation is vital in managing life, especially when we are faced with emotionally challenging situations that life tends to bring to us, such as loss, change, the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or the birth of the baby – just to name a few.
What does depression feels like from the inside?
Often, imagery of depression is often about darkness, stagnation, entrapment and aloneness.
One of my clients described feeling trapped in a darkroom, not knowing where the light switch is. Another person talked about being stuck at the bottom of a deep well – nobody hearing him call for help.
Another person described feeling like tumbleweed in the desert, being aimlessly blown around by the wind, feeling alone, deserted and helpless.
Psychologically working with meataphorn can be very fruitful. Metaphors allow us to describe our inner experience to another person in a meaningful and three-dimensional way. It can be part of developing an emotional language, which is often what depressed people struggle with.
Social relationships and depression: when someone is struggling with depression, there tends to be a reduction in social activity. Some people want to ‘hide away’ and with that social confidence drops. When depressed, social activities are experienced to be an effort.
Overall, with depression there is discrepancy and gap between a person’s inner resources and coping skills and the demands and expectations of life.
In psychologiccal therapy, we collaboratively explore, gently unravel and make sense of the different layers of depression. And, we encourage, faciliatate and practice the development of new resources and coping skills.
I hope this is helpful.
If you experience depression and feel ready to transform your emotional wellbeing with the right support and guidance, then please contact me today to arrange your FREE, 15–20-minute consultation.