By Nikki Harper
Staff Writer for Wake Up World
If you suffer or have suffered from depression, you are not alone. Globally, more than 264 million people walk this path. Many people will experience at least one bout of serious, clinical depression in their lifetime, with many more facing a lifelong struggle with “the black dog”. Modern science still does not understand the underlying causes of depression and much about this life-sapping condition remains a mystery – but for those of us on a spiritual path a better understanding of the psycho-spiritual causes of depression can help us to heal.
What is Depression?
Depression is not just a miserable day here and there, or disappointment because you didn’t get the job, or the guy, or the dream house. Anyone can have a bad day, and all of us do, but depression is more than that. Someone suffering from depression faces a daily battle against hopelessness. You lose all sense of joy and things you used to enjoy doing become meaningless. You can’t sleep, or you sleep too much. You can’t eat, or you eat too much. You worry endlessly and your self-talk is constantly negative. You struggle to take care of yourself, let alone your family. Make no mistake: depression is a serious issue and not something anyone can just “get over”.
What’s the Problem With Anti-Depressants?
Let me be clear: I am not a physician, and this article is not intended as medical advice. Anyone suffering from depression should see their doctor in order to deal with or rule out physical causes, and should listen carefully to medical advice. However, anti-depressants often become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. They are often deeply ineffective, can have horrendous side and withdrawal effects and there is compelling evidence that SSRI antidepressants actually increase the patient’s risk of suicide.
Antidepressants are not the answer to depression, for most people. Why? Apart from the reasons given above, anti-depressants simply do not treat the underlying causes of depression. These drugs act on the brain to limit your feelings of despair, but they do nothing to resolve the underlying problem. If you stop taking them, your depression is still there. Many people take anti-depressant drugs expecting them to be a miracle cure, and not realizing that in order to alleviate your depression….you have to do the emotional work.
What Are the Psycho-Spiritual Causes of Depression?
From a spiritual point of view, depression is a period of darkness – an absence of light, if you will. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with darkness as such. Without darkness, we would not appreciate the light; without darkness, we would not hibernate, reflect or grow. It is a necessary part of the human experience. Spiritual depression occurs when we have simply too much darkness at once, and we struggle to cope.
What causes this overload of darkness? There are two possibilities here – internal emotions and externally absorbed emotions.
Internal Emotions Causing Depression
In this materialistic world of ours, many of us have been sold a lie. We have bought into the dream of material success, the perfect family life, rigid standards of so-called beauty and impossibly perfect lives. When we inevitably fail to attain the unattainable, we feel worthless, guilty, lazy, useless. We lose track of the fact that it is enough to simply exist, just to “be”, without having to chase after an artificial goal. This sense of permanent failure drives away the light and the joy from our lives, leaving us with nothing but darkness and despair.
Externally Absorbed Emotions Causing Depression
For the highly sensitive, highly aware person, other people’s spiritual depression can quickly become yours. If you grew up in a difficult environment, or if a family member is going through depression, or if you work with downbeat colleagues – before you know it, you too find yourself on the slippery slope towards a depression problem. Life becomes a grind instead of a pleasure, and you start to barely survive instead of thrive.
3 Psycho- Spiritual Ways to Help Alleviate Depression
Through a greater spiritual understanding it is possible to alleviate depression and to emerge from it, at least for lengthy periods.
First, start by seeking the light. This will mean different things to different people, but make a conscious effort to be part of positive, uplifting change in the world. Do things for other people, rather than for your own ego or your own selfish desires. In doing so, you raise your vibration and make it much easier for positive energies to flow back into your life, dispelling the darkness of spiritual depression to its rightful place.
If you think you will climb out of depression when you get the job, or when you find the perfect relationship, or when you lose that weight – you’re wrong. These are the wrong goals, and forcing yourself to work towards them only sets you up for more failure and a vicious circle of depression. Instead, you need something more fulfilling and nourishing in life, and that can only come from a spiritual sense of interconnectedness with the source.
Investigate the faith or spiritual practice which calls to you. It doesn’t really matter what that is – any belief or action on a higher vibration will serve the same purpose.
Secondly, meditation and mindfulness can also be terrific tools for understanding and countering depression from a spiritual standpoint. Meditation helps you to go within and it puts you in touch with your inner core – your higher self. Your higher self doesn’t “do” depression; you’ll find a sense of acceptance and serenity there which is hard to beat.
Mindfulness in your daily life helps to counter the anxiety which often accompanies depression. When you live in the moment, for the moment, there is nothing to be anxious about – and this in turn relieves a lot of the depressive burden, as the negative emotions and toxic energies of depression simply don’t apply. Mindfulness also helps in releasing judgment, of ourselves in particular. Mindfulness also helps us to release attachments; when we let go of our attachment to a particular desired outcome, for example, it becomes easier to conquer fear and depression.
A third psychoc-spiritual way of countering depression is to ensure that you can release your emotions. Do this through journaling, or creative artwork, or any activity which allows you to spill your thoughts, uncensored, out of your head. It’s vital to get your emotions out into the open, where you can examine them dispassionately, and learn from them – you will spot patterns and triggers for your depression this way, and you will gradually learn how to avoid sinking back into the traps you’ve been in before.
These three psycho-spiritual answers to depression can help you to get back on the path to emotional wholeness. They should be considered alongside practical measures such as debt or relationship counseling where appropriate.
Depression is a highly complex problem which we are still learning to understand, but a psycho-spiritual approach to depression goes a long way towards finding and countering the underlying dis-ease and causes – and that has to be a good thing for anyone walking this difficult and lonely path.
About the author:
Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and Wake Up World’s editor.