Depression at any stage of life is the human experience that involves mind, body, and spirit. Some episodes follow the irrevocable loss of loved ones. These episodes can be debilitating, even life threatening. Depression can also be life-long symptoms that are low grade and persistent. Depression might represent the effects on the mind, body, and system of a failed personal coping system. The individual simply has burned up all of the internal survival energy. As their energy goes down, they pass through various stage of disconnecting from their hope, their purposefulness, their social world, and eventually themselves. In short, they simply give up; they detach, like the wounded animal that crawls off into the bushes to die.
Depression is a downward mood shift. It begins with negative appraisal. This negative appraisal is beyond feeling sad or abandoned. There is a more permanent quality to it because it is the result of changes in the chemistry of emotional processing of sensory information by the amygdala. The is the part of the brain that adds emotional vectoring of incoming sensory information as being “good” or “bad” for me. If this appraisal system stays in this state, a cascading effect begin. Other parts of the brain are signaled to be begin to shut down. People loose interest in sex, stop eating, and begin to have sleep problems. In this state of energy loss, people being to feel helpless and hopeless. These feeling, I suspect are very old and are tied to belonging to the tribe. Being set apart, certainly meant death especially in northern winters. This loss of social contact also means no friends, family, or companions to wile away the long winter nights; chances of finding a husband or wife vanish.
Finally, depression affects the sense of self; a self that wants to be in control of our own future. When we were born, our control was automatically driven by instructive drives for self-preservation. The change of our bodies and brains is also accompanied by a powerful impulse to grow up. Infants feel that they are center of the universe around which all activities turns. The great psychic challenge for each person is when we learn that we are not the center of the universe, but rather just another worm in the worm pile. I argue that irrevocable losses challenge our identity, that is, who we are. For example, midlife is significant spiritual crisis that left unresolved will filter into the psyche and eventually have dire consequences to the survival of the body.
Mind, Body, and Spirit in Crisis:
Recombining body, mind, and spirit into a whole person, we might define depression as having the overall effect of challenging who I think that I am, and how I relate to others. Having an irrevocable loss, means I have to redefine myself without that person, place, or thing as part of me. The “psychic pain” that is felt from irrevocable loss must be resolved by the reintegration of myself about a new concept of who I am. For example, at midlife, we begin to suffer from multiple irrevocable losses. The self needs to go through a transformation. Many of us discover that the emotional turmoil of childhood and adolescents is not safely behind us. We find the assumption that adulthood has been a long steady period of progressive growth, set upon a stable foundation, is false.
Depression might be characterized by persistent negative moods, which values on the mood scale starting at (-2) on the AcornCounselingllc Mood Chart (See my Blog about mood). Accompanying the feelings of depressed mood are the feelings of emptiness, confusion, feelings of disillusionment and disappointment. During the healing process, the person’s identity shifts as relationships with self, others and Higher Power are revisited and updated to reflect the new change of view from “what was”, “What is” to “What am I to become?”
The Depression Chart shows the changes people experience under the rubric called depression. An event precipitates the downward movement of mood. What is important modification to the change in mood is the cause. The deeper the depression, the higher the odds that brain-chemistry is being changed. Antidepressants become necessary to re-establish the appropriate levels of neurotransmitters while talk therapy is helps heal the loss.