The alarm goes off and the depression calculus begins. What can I delay today? Who can I cancel? Where can I delegate? All you want is your pillow. When you look in the mirror, you count the flaws and loathe what you see. The inner diatribe is sharp and unrelenting. This is depression and it makes working, playing, learning and parenting almost impossible. You suffer because you lack motivation. You are guilty because you can’t mobilize. You want to cry and you don’t know why. It makes no sense. You barely recognize yourself.
It Makes No Sense
You would do anything to feel better, and you’ve probably tried all of the usual fixes: omega-3s, St. John’s wort, gym memberships, yoga, meditation, affirmations and “being positive.” Self-help books and rock anthems might give you a momentary emotional boost, but perhaps the gray cloud of depression always manages to descend once again. Your job performance may be suffering, your loved ones are perhaps bewildered and you are likely worn out by the effort it takes to pay the bills, get out of bed in the morning or even tie your shoelaces. There’s a way out of this, but in your current state, hope has perhaps migrated south for the season.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) puts the incidence of depression among Americans at 8% of the population. Older people are more prone to depression than the young, and depression tends to occur alongside certain illnesses: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Women who have given birth in the last year also have increased risk factors for depression due to hormonal changes. Depression is the leading cause of disability in America, according to the CDC. It’s a huge health problem, and if you are suffering with depression, it’s NOT YOUR FAULT. The hopelessness and guilt you feel are part of the illness. Depression is highly treatable, and you can feel like your old self again with the help of therapy.
Depression treatment starts with a detailed retelling of a patient’s life story up to the present. Patients are often surprised to learn that they have already navigated rough water with courage and creativity and can do so again. This newfound respect for themselves is rooted in their history and is more substantial, tangible and meaningful than the all-purpose glow of generic affirmations.
Lonely Kid, Depressed Grown-up
Childhood loneliness and neglect are endemic to depressed persons. Due to illness, death, or absent, unavailable parents, depressed individuals have often grown up in difficult, unsupportive environments. Often there was no one to talk to and the child was self-reliant. This self-reliance bestows gifts (growth and individuality) and exacts a toll (loneliness and hopelessness). Sometimes the most tangible thing to hold onto is a lonely grade-schooler’s ironclad sense of right and wrong; depression treatment aims to soften and add complexity to that simplistic worldview without blaming or banishing that child self.
Perfect, Perfect, Good Enough, Just Okay, Perfect, Perfect
Depression treatment also questions the high bars individuals set for themselves. Is it fair? Does it make sense? When patients learn to examine their wishes for perfection, they learn to weed out the goals that don’t matter anymore and keep only the important ones. Once the backbreaking ideals are retired, rest and relaxation can find a foothold. Pleasure and connection are right behind. With the help of depression treatment you can learn about your vulnerabilities to hurt, guilt, shame, and loneliness. You can recognize that you are backsliding into depression in a more timely manner and intercede with exceptional self-care.
Perhaps you are ready to reach for depression treatment, but you have some reservations.
I tried therapy already. I did CBT.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy differs from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT seeks to correct distorted thoughts, while psychodynamic psychotherapy deals with thoughts AND feelings. Since depression is a mood disorder, it makes sense to spend time talking about feelings. The “homework” aspect of CBT can feel like yet another obligation, another burden, another mountain to climb alone. In CBT, the therapist offers advice and guidance. The vibe is teacher/student. Psychodynamic psychotherapy offers a level playing field. The vibe is of equals working together toward a shared goal, a goal that YOU choose.
I can barely get through my day.
Yes. I know. Another obligation. Another place to be. You are already so burdened by your illness that you can’t imagine that someone could lighten the load you are already carrying. The hopeful part of you is reading this and searching for relief. At the same time, something powerful (and probably old) is working like acid on your hope. Think of taking the power of the sneering, hateful part and aiming all that energy at acquiring something you want instead of at your most vulnerable self.
I won’t relinquish the very thing that makes me successful and unique.
New York is a city of strivers and tastemakers. Patients worry that therapy will change things they like about themselves. This is an important concern and is one we can openly address during your sessions. Ultimately the therapy will be aligned with your goals, not mine.
Don’t Let Depression Win
With the help of depression treatment, it’s possible to get back in touch with the best version of yourself. I have 18 years of experience working as a generalist and a long and successful independent study of depression in all its disguises. You can take off the mask with me. Give me a call at (212) 929-9897 and make an appointment today.