Depression is:

To be depressed is experience a type of psychological pain. The pain of depression is a natural human response to life experiences that include a bad shock, a sudden change or a personal loss.  Depression is a state that may move in when the process of grieving, or expressing feelings is interrupted or blocked for some reason. By understanding more about your emotional situation it is possible to reduce the pain and transform the experience of depression. 

Depression is a Human Response

Although it is natural to feel pain in the healing process it does not mean it is natural to be burdened by it for years on end.  And it is not the fault of the sufferer if they feel stuck in a depression. It is, however, naturally important to seek out understanding for the purpose of getting free from pain. This can be achieved with a co-pilot on your side.

Potential Triggers of Depression:

  • Divorce or breakup
  • Death
  • Move away from home
  • Betrayal
  • A secret
  • Isolation

Depressing States of Mind:

  • Self Loathing
  • Feeling unloved
  • Hopelessness
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Guilt

Positive Triggers of Depression:

  • Getting married
  • Graduation
  • A promotion or achievement
  • A new baby
  • Attention
  • Achieving more than your parents
  • Childhood guilt
  • Success or change

Managing Alone

We all have our own ways of navigating painful feelings and those ways are often tied to how we managed as children. If we did not receive the care and support for emotional needs in early life it is natural to continue to manage alone in adulthood.

One thing most of us wrestle with is an natural aversion to discomfort, pain or suffering.On one hand, it is life-preserving to avoid unnecessary suffering in the same way we want to avoid physical dangers. But we can also self protect in positive or good situations. We may find we reflexively shun good experiences as if they could lead to depression.

We all grow up to become experts at managing our unpleasant feelings. Some of these are conscious ways while other ways are unconscious. We might pacify ourselves when criticized with, “Oh, it’s nothing” or, “If I can be more helpful things will be okay” or, “She hurt me terribly but she couldn’t help it because I did it wrong.”

Depression is Highly Treatable

The thing that sets psychotherapy apart from other forms of therapy is the importance of the relationship. Unlike other therapies, in psychotherapy we aren’t expected or told, to do anything, take anything or say anything. Although, suggestions and recommendations can come up as part of the ongoing process of the therapy conversation.

Change in psychotherapy is cumulative and born out of the conversation. Change has the best chance when we can feel safer and respected for who we are. It is possible when we have an environment that welcomes, encourages, supports and guides us to be express ourselves and our self understanding.

A part of how depression impacts us is by preventing us full access to who we are. And as described above, two ways we can be blocked from ourselves is when we naturally act to avoid a bad or disturbing feeling; the other thing that is often hard, is to feel distress when alone.

Social stigmas are another burdensome thing to contend with when seeking help to change depression. Emotional issues (aka mental issues), have for centuries, been ridiculed, rejected or worse. While the stigmas are overtly lessened, we still try to avoid judgement and misattunement. Finding someone with whom we may develop a trusting relationship in order to help us, is central to outgrowing depression.

Therapy for Depression Helps You Reconnect

I strive to provide a safe and emotionally supportive environment to explore and understand what’s happening. Having a space that is private and personally focused can be a rare or new experience for many people. Finding the freedom to speak openly and honestly about matters that are highly personal and private in nature, is partly possible because therapy is separate from the rest of your life.

When we are helped, with patience, kind words or comforting understanding, we may gain something of ourselves that helps us heal and grow.

Seeing the Benefits of Therapy, Yet Have Some Doubts

“I don’t see how talking about my problems will change anything.”

Therapy is a place where I, as your therapist, provide a safe and supportive structure for you to talk about things that can feel emotionally charged. Therapy is an opportunity for real experiences to be reworked in the therapeutic relationship. This is good because it allows a space to reconsider issues that contributed to negative patterns and feelings. The talking we do, when linked to real emotional experiences in the here and now of the therapy relationship, can be powerfully transformative. It is analogous to going back in time and having a chance to transform early relationship patterns that interfere with you living a more fulfilling adult life now.

“I’m afraid that therapy will bring up difficult things from my past that I don’t want to talk about.”

It is natural to feel skeptical when approaching a new situation where uncomfortable feelings can get stirred up. Perhaps you have ideas about what it would mean to talk about things that are on your mind. Often we carry around a monkey on our backs, trying to ignore it and for moments feeling it isn’t there. But when something persists, it is best to take a look at it with the company and support of a trained professional. I understand that it may take time before you feel comfortable addressing a particular issue. The client is the driver. We move at your pace in this process.

“I’m afraid that I will become dependent on your services.”

Your fear of being attached to a relationship is common and it is worth talking about. Even as you are reading this you may feel some anxiety in imagining feeling close. However, the therapy relationship, unlike other dependence-enticing relationships in our lives, is a place for the emergence of feelings related to your central difficulty, for the purpose of change. Feeling free to depend is part of all relationships and very important to negotiating real change. Most of us will agree, that when we were young, we had a good many ideas and theories about the world of relationships well before we were cognitively developed. Having a therapy that allows for a re-working can bring things together in new ways that provide you more freedoms.

Example: A man overcomes a major source of his depression.

Please Note: The material following is a fictitious creation to show how underlying ideas contribute to current problems that can be re-worked.

A very bright graduate student suffered from chronic depression. He often felt quite sad, hopeless and had a sense of himself as a bad person. In the therapy, this young man reported that as a child he was left under the care of an unavailable mother who suffered from depression and drug addiction.

A compelling dynamic that emerged in our work was the man’s inclination to blame himself whenever he was mistreated by others. This was a long-standing pattern that had once allowed him to tolerate the mistreatment he experienced as a child. In his contemporary life, the pattern contributed to keeping him locked in the clutches of his depression. The therapy helped him to see this pattern clearly so he could gradually come to notice, and own, how it was something he was invested in doing. He was then able to develop the skills he needed to change and overcome this restrictive, painful pattern. This work enabled him to gain insight and navigate the transition necessary for him to give up a major source of his depression.

Steps to Beginning Therapy for Depression

I invite you to call or email me to discuss your situation and ask any questions you have about treatment with me. Making an appointment is a time to talk about your experience as you see it, and to get a sense of whether we might work together. Feel free to leave a confidential message on my 24-hour voicemail: 415-820-3930.

We human beings are experts at avoiding unpleasurable experience. It is something we can all do and often times for very realistic reasons. We can shelve and delay things until we have time to think; we can change the subject, we can channel surf, and we can avoid things that cause discomfort. However, when we divert or ignore as a life choice something that is unpleasurable, it can constrict other freedoms, relationships and satisfactions. At heart, depression is an unpleasurable experience that pushes to be heard. Therapy can help you, be a guide, light the road, towards brighter possibilities.