Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Depression can happen at any age but often begins in adulthood. Even the most severe cases of depression can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is often treated with medications and psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
In my work with a holistic approach to depression, I have identified 5 key awarenesses that can lead to significant improvement in the experience of depression.
1. Awareness of Thought:
Although our thoughts are very real, they are not necessarily true. All too often we have deeply ingrained thoughts that we have held and practiced for a long period of time. The longer we carry a negative thought, the stronger the current of more negative thoughts become. Unfortunately, most of us take our thoughts very seriously and place a lot of value on them. If you are hurting right now, it is because you are currently believing some thought running through your mind. Identify what you are telling yourself. Then ask yourself: Who would I be if I no longer believed this thought?
2. Awareness of Feelings:
Your feelings are a direct result of the thoughts you are carrying. Many of us believe we feel depressed and therefore have negative thoughts. It actually works the opposite. Our feelings are an important tool to identify false beliefs. Any painful feelings are a clear indication that you are telling yourself something that is a direct insult to the core of who you are. This deeper part of you is letting you know about the insult through the way you are feeling. Ask yourself: What are my feelings telling me right now?
3. Awareness of Beliefs:
Our beliefs are only thoughts and stories that have been well rehearsed over a long period of time. Beliefs are not the truth. As evidenced by the fact that there are as many beliefs as there are humans on this planet. Most of our beliefs about ourselves, others and life are limiting and false beliefs implanted by family, society and life experiences. Because these beliefs are not inherently ours, the power to stop believing them rests within us. As yourself: Who would I be if this belief was not the truth?
4. Awareness of Your Authentic Self:
Your Authentic Self is that part of you that came into this world carrying your purpose, joy, and creativity. Unfortunately for most adults today, we started being molded at a young age to conform to parents expectations, hurt by peer pressure, stifled by societal pressures and stunted by our own stories and beliefs. How far is the life you are living today and the adult that you have become removed from the joyful youth you used to be? The greater the pain you are in as an adult, the further removed you are from your inherent creativity and joy. It is the layers of conditioning, projections and the belief in painful stories, thoughts and false beliefs that are causing us the pain. By reconnecting to your authentic nature, depression has no place to hide out. Nobody’s authentic nature is depressed. Ask yourself every day: How far removed am I from feeling authentically me?
5. Awareness of Joy:
Each moment you have to decide to chase joy or accept depression. It truly is a decision. I know when in the midst of a depressive episode this is incredibly difficult and antagonistic to hear. The reason for that is simply that the step from depression to joy is a giant leap that is not doable in one jump. Small steps in the right direction are however doable. When feeling at your lowest, ask yourself: What small step could I take that would bring me a glimmer of joy today?
It is my hope that these key steps are giving you hope of looking at depression from a more empowered perspective. Having battled with depression myself for decades in the past and now helping other women through it, I firmly believe in a spiritual solution to this national health crisis along with medical and behavioral interventions. Nobody has to live a life of pain. You did not come into this life to suffer. You came into this life to experience joy and expansion.