Yes, it does depend on the person and circumstances. If it is a sudden depression brought on by a chemical imbalance after surgery, then the most appropriate thing is probably just to manage it with medication until body chemistry balances out.
If, however, the depression is a response to events in the person’s life, that person would do well to seek a wise friend or therapist to help them think through those issues and their responses to them. Medication may be needed to bring body chemistry to a level where good therapy can occur.
I experienced deep depression in mid-life after beginning therapy to address the affects of longterm child abuse. I read a lot about depression. One of the things I read I consider wise. It said to “embrace” the depression. In our American culture we avoid pain and want quick fixes. But quick fixes and pain killing is often not the best way to address longterm life problems. Depression can actually be a friend. It is like a warning signal, telling us something is wrong, adjustments need to be made. Depression often requires us (by its nature) not to be so active. It can be a time when we can look inward at how we are feeling about painful events. We can write our feelings. I found journaling very helpful. Sometimes we don’t know what to journal, but the experts said just try to start writing and the words will eventually come. That did happen. And I was able to express on paper many feelings which I had never voiced before, probably never even been allowed to feel before because it had not been safe.
Those who have depression can look back on it as a season in their life when they grew. It can be a kind of desert experience, painful, difficult, but growth often requires such things.
Thanks for the thinking out loud with me here, Wayne and Milly. Wayne, maybe you should be a guest post-er on this series. You articulated very well some of the things I’m thinking about and was heading in the direction of, possibly in my next post. I have so many thoughts jumbling around in my head and am trying to break them down, step-by-step. Anyway, your words really help me sort through my thinking.
Also, Wayne, do you remember where you read about embracing depression? It resonates with things I’ve read from Viktor Frankl, whose writings have shaped much of my thinking on this and related issues.
John, I did a bit of digging to find out more about ergo-therapy, but found very little information in a language I could understand. However, I chewed on what I could add up about it, overnight, and this morning it kept running through my mind that this sounded quite a bit like what we call occupational therapy, even though I’ve never thought about occupational therapy with regards to depression.
So, I did a quick search for that this morning, and BINGO–there is quite a lot of helpful and interesting information.
I agree with the above Depression can have multiple causes, and needs to be approached according to the individual circumstances. I know several people who seem to suffer from biochemical depression — causeless (as far as anyone can tell) and the obvious solution is to take medication to control it. On the other hand, if there’s a real cause (whether it’s bereavement, abuse or something else) then the important thing is to deal with the source of pain, not wallpaper over it. When I was dealing intensively with my abuse issues, I remember my counsellor saying that she didn’t like her clients to take anti-depressants unless they were dangerously depressed (eg suicidal) because if they weren’t feeling any pain they had no motivation to work through their issues and resolve them.
Thanks, Lynne, for your helpful thoughts. You, also, are helping me narrow down some of the things I was feeling the need to explore here. I’ve often heard depression (particularly as concerns taking anti-depressants) compared to diabetes and taking insulin. But, I find depression to be more analogous to pain, which is a warning system, rather than a disease like diabetes, which is a misfunction (of course, pain can also be a misfunction, and so, I believe, can depression. But I think these circumstances are the less common scenario, though we often interact with them as the default).