Monday, December 24, 2012

Depression and the Shortest Day of the Year (posted late!!)

Dec21 – Feeling depressed? Because of the short day? Or the world did not end?

It is important to define depression – 1) an act of depressing or a state of being depressed; 2) a state of feeling sad; 3) a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide, a reduction in functional activity, amount, quality, or force depression of autonomic function.

What causes depression? The causes may be physical – such as short day length (SAD) or body chemistry. Another cause of depression is the repression or suppression of our emotions. The stages of depression would be as follows. When we are children growing up in our respective homes, it is very common for several things to happen. 1) we do not have the opportunity to express ourselves and be heard or acknowledged 2) our needs (a HUGE list) are not met so we feel worthless 3) we get hurt, another long list! These events may occur many times.

As we become adults, the feelings of worthlessness and hurt follow us. People deal with these feelings in varied ways – they stuff them (numbness, deadness and flatness), they use substances (alcohol, drugs, food, you get the picture). See my emotional guide for a more complete list. Understanding the way we suffered to cause the depression is critical – we need to go back in our minds to those hurtful times, and feel through those held feelings. As children we could not handle the emotions but as adults we can take responsibility and do the courageous work of facing and working through our feelings.

Suicide and keeping busy to avoid dealing with our feelings are both avoidance techniques for doing what seems so counter intuitive – going into our painful feelings in order to get over them. These pools of long held emotion can be dissipated by the act of feeling them. This is our natural emotional healing power – the emotional equivalent of physical healing! We may need a list of feelings to help us connect with what we are really feeling.

Depression can be mild, feeling blue, or it can be major depression. Medication may be required for a time. Please consult a doctor immediately if you are severely depressed.

Post partum depression may be linked to our own unpleasant experiences at child birth. We are born fully developed emotionally so even these early experiences can affect us. Being separated from our mothers at birth may be very traumatic for new borns. The stages of life of our children may be triggers for our own held emotion. The skill of feeling through can help us with this issue.

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