Time, bereavement and depression
At the end of this month, the clocks will go back an hour in the UK. If we are we lucky we won't notice this event beyond the fact that an extra hour can be spent asleep. It is a kind of annual Sunday "bonus".
But while many will welcome the extra hour, others dread the passage of time. If you are feeling depressed, the hours and minutes may feel as if they pass ever more slowly and mild anxiety can slip into deep depression. Once a year there is an extra hour of agony.
In a paper entitled Mourning and Melancholia, Freud described the subtle difference between what on the one hand, can be a gradually passing mood of sadness, and on the other, a terrifying state of entrenched emotional paralysis.
The process of mourning is normal when we are grieving; it gradually cures itself over time. So, if we are grieving for the loss of a loved one, we may be tearful and upset and temporarily unable to cope with ordinary life. Nevertheless, a counsellor may help in the process of recovery from personal loss.
Some who have been bereaved will slip into a more serious state; they are able to do less and less for themselves and any attempt to think afresh or start life anew is strangled at birth by an inner critical voice telling the sufferer that they are useless, worthless and do not deserve to live. Freud described this state as "melancholia" but whatever the label we use, the nature of the suffering experienced has not changed over the years. Depression of this kind is a more serious and difficult problem. In this case too, talking to a counsellor can help.
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