Many have expressed their feelings of depression. The isolation, the suffering and death, the raging spread of the virus, the division in our nation, the economic uncertainty, and uncertainty of our future, has created “Situational Depression.”
Situational Depression? What I am about to say may be obvious or outdated for some. Years ago in my private practice of psychotherapy my colleague and I created a Depression Clinic. To clarify, what I am about to offer is what many call “Situational Depression,” and not “Clinical Depression.”
Situational Depression is experienced when there is loss; grief brings a reaction of depression, along with other feelings of shock, denial, anger, and abandonment.
Situational Depression also comes in the midst of isolation in a pandemic, divorce, unemployment, or health diagnosis. It is not unusual for patients of open-heart surgery to experience depression.
Often, the recovery from alcohol or others drugs brings depression; strangely a sense of loss with anxiety.
How to deal with Situational Depression:
1. Connection: Sustain primary relationships with those you trust and speak their truth in love. Phone calls made and received; no matter how brief. In-person conversation when safe.
2. Maintain a Routine: Too often employers or family members will encourage stopping your routine, whatever it is. However, taking a daily shower, getting dressed, eating something even when no interest at the usual time is important.
No matter how simple the ritual, to maintain it offers safe structure to create a feeling of normalcy, no matter how slight.
3. Exercise: Some physical activity from arm movements while sitting in a chair to a walk around the house or outside. If a daily or weekly walk is a regular ritual, do the walk at the same time and in the same place.
4. Meditation: Depression is complex because as much as it is interpreted as a shutting down, the mind may be racing with scattered thoughts and anxiety. Sitting or walking meditation is helpful. Simply following your breath at its normal rate, and not changing it, will calm the anxiety.
Breathing in, filling your lungs, holding it for 10 seconds, and then exhaling until your lungs are totally empty. The most important part is emptying your lungs, letting the darkness, sadness, pain drain away.
Prayer may be a primary way in which you meditate and open yourself to renewal.
5. Therapy: Meeting with a professional therapist may be a very helpful, uplifting, and freeing experience. Talking out loud with a trusted listener, expressing your inner thoughts and feelings, is therapeutic. A trusted listener may be a loved one or good friend. Such conversation offers the safe opportunity to be listened to. Whether with a professional or a confidant, this relationship is healing. Thus, another connection.
6. Medication: In some instances, medication may be prescribed. No shame in this. However, all of the above may help prevent or partner with medication. Medication alone is not always helpful. Connecting, doing your routine, exercise, meditation, and therapy may support the lift of the situational depression without medication. However, if medication is prescribed and you trust the provider, take it without shame.
Please know I offer this as an attempt to assist. In no way is it meant to be prescriptive; there is no miraculous or magical “cure” for Situational Depression. It is a process.
Healing comes because you already have all the resources you need to deal with the pain. All of the above suggestions are intended to facilitate the use of your own resources.
Prayers ascending for all of us as we deal with our current situation.