Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is clinical diagnosis for a state of intense sadness, despair, or hopelessness that is disruptive to normal functioning. Other symptoms can include irritability, physical agitation, insomnia, appetite loss, preoccupation with death and/or rejection, lethargy, and even psychotic symptoms such as delusions. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, for people older than 15. Depression is almost always about a person’s experience of events in life. It cannot be addressed purely as a function of brain chemistry.
In psychoanalytic therapy depression is not usually seen as a disease. It understood as a sign of emotional overload, or a pressing need for change. Many people have life experiences that seriously hurt them. Intense sadness, emotional pain, and confusion can be skipped-over or put on hold as a person gets on with the necessities of everyday life. The feelings may seem to go away, but in truth they tend to resurface as depression and anxiety later on.
Delays in grief and mourning are notorious sources of depression. Another major cause is the tendency to turn strong feelings such as anger, outrage, and disappointment against oneself. As the old saying goes, “depression is anger turned inward.” When difficult things happen in life many people blame themselves.
Treating Depression Through Therapy
The mental and emotional origins of depression are different for everyone. It is rare that one event, or one key memory, causes depression. Most often, the root cause is a longstanding tendency to feel bad about oneself. Difficult life circumstances can then bring an overwhelming amount of negative, painful thoughts and feelings. Medications can be helpful in reducing the intensity of disturbing feelings, but they do not address the psychological root causes of depression. Psychoanalytic therapy is designed to initiate changes at the source of a person’s depression. We work for a permanent remedy.