Depression: When the soul comes knocking
‘The moody blues’, ‘melancholia’, ‘the black dog’, ‘down in the dumps’, ‘feeling gloomy’, ‘the blue funk’; we have so many different ways to describe depression, which reflects the universality of its experience across the world. But what is it? And what can you do if you suffer from this most debilitating and potentially devastating of conditions? Doctors can describe anti-depressants, or an individual may choose something herbal, such as St. John’s Wort, but in the end, whilst such treatments can help an individual get over the worst part of ‘feeling down’, the symptoms are really only being masked. They may help someone function again with relative normality in the world, at least for a time, but they don’t address the root cause of the condition.
The term ‘depression’ can cover a wide range of symptoms, some much more serious than others, from an inability to concentrate, persistent insomnia, general fatigue, feeling sad and empty, lack of pleasure in activities, periods of crying (possibly for no apparent reason), feelings of worthlessness, to having suicidal thoughts. This, therefore, is a checklist of what to look for in order to help ascribe the condition. But what is depression really? Why did the symptoms manifest in the first place?
Depression can be something with a clear causation, for example, coming after a loss, such as bereavement, separation, retirement, or a child growing up and leaving home. These events, on their own, can trigger the feeling, but to suffer loss is a natural state for human beings to endure; the very act of living means we face constant endings. After a period of time, usually, a depression in this circumstance will lift (sometimes with help from therapy), and the individual can move through what has been a natural process, like the change from winter to spring, and rediscover the joy in living. But what if this doesn’t happen and the depression doesn’t go (perhaps the loss is triggering some deeper trauma within the individual)? Or what if there doesn’t appear to be any obvious cause as to why the depression began?
There is a saying that depression is the soul knocking at the door of the personality, trying to get them to take notice. Something is not right, and needs looking at. Whether one believes we have a soul, or that there is a deeper part of the psyche of which the conscious self is unaware, the meaning is the same; some part of the self is attempting to communicate and the method of communication is the feeling we call ‘depression’. This is where a good counsellor can work with an individual and help untangle and explore their feelings, in an attempt to reach the root cause of why the soul or deeper psyche should be knocking in the first place. Once the message has been received and integrated, the messenger will leave contented, and the depression theoretically should lift. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the time the therapy may take, the difficult emotions that may need to be confronted, such as anger and rage, the life changes that may need to be made and the courage a client may need to have to make the journey in the first place. But still, if it makes the soul happy, and the conscious self is once again able to embrace life, then surely it’s a journey worth taking.