People tell me about being stressed when they are not, they are busy. People tell about having the flu when they haven’t, they have a cold. People tell me that they are depressed when they are not, they are a little bit down. The natural flow of human emotion is to be high and to be low. This flow is normal and may happen minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month. It may flow throughout the year so that people feel high in the summer and low in the winter. To feel a bit down from time to time is normal.
What is depression?
Try and visualise a flat line that starts in the present moment and goes on into eternity. The line represent the normal, normal feeling and normal actions, you might see the line as flatness neither happy nor sad, positive nor negative. Anything above the line is positive, happiness, joy and as it get higher euphoria, ecstasy and mania. Below the line is dullness, lack of motivation, inertia, unhappiness, misery, sadness, and depression.
Those described as manic depressive have fluctuating emotions between the highs of mania, through normality of the middle line to the lows of depression. There are many types of manic depression. Some are mainly high with a little bit of low, some mainly low with a little high and all other combinations between these two. Then there are is the issues of are these changes rapid cycling or slow cycling.
Depression describes an emotional state that exists below the normal line. As we all have up days and down days we all feel high and lows. Both mania and depression are the extremes of these normal emotional states.
The mind brain
The mind is the emotional and conceptual part of the system or the software of the system. The brain is the meat, or hardware of the system. Feelings are in the software and, the chemistry or endorphins of the brain, are in the hardware. Both effect each other. If we change the way that we think or feel we will change our brain chemistry. On the other hand if we change our brain chemistry we change the way that we think and feel.
Anti-Depressants change the brain chemistry that in turn changes the way that we think and feel.
This changes the way that we think and feel that in tern changes the brain chemistry.
Both medication and psychotherapy are relevant and will effect depression. In most cases of deep depression they will only work effectively when used together.
This is when depression is the sole result of deficient brain chemistry. This requires medication, which may need to be used forever, just as if you have an insulin deficiency because you are diabetic you will need medication for life.
This is when an event or experience effects our thinking and feeling and subsequently effects our brain chemistry. Included in reactive depression are bereavement, loss, hurt, separation and so on. Also there may be trauma and post traumatic stress. Both medication and talking therapies will be useful for reactive depression.
This is not accepted by all authorities, though I often find it in my consulting room. Perhaps a manager or partner acts in way that creates anger within you that you are unable to respond to. The situation requires that you keep quiet and repress your feelings. Over time, as the anger accumulates, the negative feelings, that are unexpressed, eventually turn against you and are eventually excreted as depression. Therapy is an absolute must in this case. Also running, jumping, screaming and shouting to let go of all negative energy will be really useful.
Generally there are many issues of feeling down in life. Post natal depression, the baby blues, midlife crisis, bereavement, loss, being let down, and so on. In most cases when the situation remains unaddressed it will eventually become depression.
We all need to be aware of our emotional health. The self help tip here has to be that if you begin to feel bad, down or depressed do something about it. The more aware you become of your self the more you will be able to attend to your own needs and not get lost in the depth of depression.
Those that practice mindful meditation are least likely to experience depression and those that are depressed and begin to practice mindfulness will not only solve their problems quicker but will also reduce the levels of medication required to solve their issues.
Be happy and be mindful