Depression: When We Disappear
Depression steals a person’s energy, interest and life. It is common. Most people will experience a period of depression at some point in their lives, yet the seriousness of depression as an emotional condition cannot be overstated. For some, depression is part of a generational family pattern that has been genetically and behaviorally passed down from parents to children. For most others depression is situational, an emotional reaction to a painful event or adverse circumstances.
Depression exists along a broad spectrum from mild to severe. At the mild end of the spectrum is Dysthymia, a mild but chronic depression that is persistently nagging but not dangerous just concerning. Far more severe is Major Depression, which may completely prevent a person’s daily functioning, often includes suicidal thoughts with a risk of suicide attempts and successful suicide, severely reduced interest in life and requires medication as well as a psychiatric hospitalization. Depression can be experienced in episodes that vary from very short (a day or two) to lengthy (months or even years) and in varying depths.
Depression should not be taken lightly as it may be life threatening, yet it is routinely dismissed by others due to the invisibility of an emotional condition as opposed to an obvious physical injury, such as a broken bone. Symptoms of depression may include depressed mood, low energy, lack of motivation, negativity, aggravated attitude, lack of pleasure in activities that used to be pleasurable (Anhedonia), increased or decreased appetite, increased or decreased desire to sleep, reduced interest in sex, withdrawing from life and seeking isolation, and possible alcohol or drug use as a way to escape the emotional pain.
For many who suffer depression, emotional habits may contribute to the development of depression. Regularly repressing painful emotions, especially angry feelings, may result in the rise of depressive symptoms. Low self-esteem (See articles on self-esteem) causes a tendency to seek to please others, avoid conflict, hold back from asserting oneself, and fulfilling one’s own needs all may contribute to this pattern. Perfectionism, ADHD and trauma also are conditions which may exist alongside depression. In addition to psychotherapy, depression and it’s emotional sibling, anxiety, are also treated with doctor-prescribed medication. Natural methods to relieve anxiety and depression include Tumeric and Curcumin.
A form of depression that used to be called Manic Depression but is now called Bi-Polar Disorder is characterized fluctuating moods which includes depressive episodes. Again Bi-Polar Disorder affects people mildly or severely. Those who are severely afflicted experience volatile mood swings in which the depressive episodes are deep and may be life threatening, but also manic episodes which have symptoms of unbounded energy with an inability to sleep, sometimes grandiosity, unlimited spending sprees, running away from the home life, excessive sexual desire and irritability.
At its core a depressed person experiences a powerlessness to create a satisfying life. Depression is hopelessness. Love relationships are a rigorous life experience which may activate or “wake up” unresolved issues and challenge a partner regarding personal power. Many a partner feels trapped with little control to influence the partner or quality of relationship, a situation that may easily cause depression.
Depression and Love Relationships
A partner who is depressed is unavailable for for a positive intimate and loving connection. The depressed partner is occupied with having a relationship with his or her depression and is therefore less present for the relationship partner. Having less motivation and interest in activities that had previously been the source of enjoyment, a depressed partner becomes more solitary and less engaged in the relationship. He or she may actively push the non-depressed partner away.
Depression Medication and Relationships
Many medications are available to help relieve the symptoms of depression and bring a depressed partner back to life, the relationship and their “old” self. But medications do have a cost. Most medications also produce side effects, but most comply the side effects are less problematic than the depression. Typical side effects of anti-depressant medication include less sensitivity to emotions, flatter emotional experience, some cause weight gain, reduced interest in sex, and some cause inhibited or inability to achieve orgasm. Each individual and couple must evaluate their own situation to determine if the positive effects of medication outweigh the side-effects.
Andrew Aaron, LICSW has helped hundreds of individuals cope with the pain of depression and help to lighten or even eliminate the symptoms.