You may already know the signs and symptoms of depression:
- Feeling sad daily or almost daily
- Low energy and difficulty facing the day / tasks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty experiencing joy, pleasure, or interests in things you used to0
- Wanting to be alone
- Loss of appetite or over eat to soothe or distract
But in order to overcome depression, we need to understand whether our symptoms are clinical (more physiological) or situational.
Medical News Today defines clinical versus situational depression. Specifically, “Disturbances in levels of certain chemicals — known as neurotransmitters….” in the brain creates a physiological reaction that leads to depressive symptoms.
And, “…., other factors are likely to play a role (in clinical depression), for example:
- genetic factors may influence an individual’s response to an experience or event
- major life events can trigger negative emotions, such as anger, disappointment, or frustration
- alcohol and drug dependence also have links to depression” (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314698.php)
Whereas, situational depression “is a short-term form of depression that occurs as the result of a traumatic event or change in a person’s life” (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314698.php).
- loss of a job or loved one
- a break-up or divorce
- experiencing a horrific event. (recently or repeated events that occurred throughout one’s life)
Trauma and depression often coincide.
Traumatic reactions are experienced immediately, while depressive symptoms are more likely to develop if it isn’t processed within six months. Here a few possible reasons why:
- You feel alone because nobody can quite fully understand your experience
- You fear uncontrollable emotions or reactions will come up in social settings, so you begin to avoid others, isolate, and feel safer being alone.
- The images, emotions, and physiological reactions to the event can be persistent and intense. It is our natural tendency to avoid them or any other reminders of the event which becomes physically and mentally exhausting.
- Your view of the world and reality changes. Bringing a sense of overwhelm, loss of direction, and loss of confidence in yourself. Doubt of what you use to know and how to manage things. Making it difficult to know how to move forward.
The Other Driving Force: Negative Beliefs
Negative thoughts are developed through our experiences. Those thoughts are then carried with us through later life experiences, creating certain (and often automatic) reactions. Reactions towards others, impacting our relationships, which then reinforce what we believe. We feel stuck in a vicious cycle as you see below. Hopelessness takes over.
So how do I break the cycle?
Many types of therapies that have shown to be effective in managing and treating depression. Very Well Mind describes a few of them (https://www.verywellmind.com/types-of-psychotherapy-for-depression-1067407).
Clinical depression is best treated with medication and therapy. Medication helps balance chemicals in the brain that then reduces depressive symptoms. Therapy can help process life events and thoughts that contribute to the symptoms.
If depressive symptoms are a result of a life changing or traumatic event, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) may also be an option.
EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. as a treatment for trauma. Trauma is defined in EMDR as big T’s for severe trauma and little “t’s” for less severe trauma. Examples of severe trauma are childhood abuse, neglect, victim of assault, or witnessing tragic events. Examples of less severe trauma are being bullied in school, a performance on stage gone wrong, or the teacher embarrassed you in front of the whole class. Any can cause a negative belief about oneself which then lingers and is carried into the next situation. Any can cause physiological reactions and cause similar reactions in the future.
Let’s take the later as an example. If you believe, “I’m wrong,” how would you feel the moment you approach a group of peers or when your boss asks you a question? Anxious perhaps. How would your body react? Freeze, shake, chest and chin sink in, maybe throat clinches.
EMDR helps to identify these incidents and process them until that incident no longer has such an impact on you today. “I’m wrong” changes to a more adaptive belief, “I’m okay as I am.” The body remains calm and the mind present.
How would you approach a group of peers or when the boss asks you a question with this new belief in mind?
If depression is driven by negative thinking, and the negative thinking is a result of an experience you had, then EMDR may be the answer to gain a better and more adaptive perspective on yourself and others.
Providing relief and a new way of looking at things. A clarity and lightness.
If it’s difficult to determine where your depressive symptoms are stemming from, a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help with questions surrounding the history of symptoms, as well as family and medical history.
To learn more about EMDR, you can go to my Services tab or you can follow the links below:
You can also call for free consult to see if EMDR may be helpful for you.