One trend that I have seen over the past year, has been the continuing pattern of clients who have found themselves in "survival mode". Since the onset of the pandemic, all of the negative and overwhelming news in the world feels like it has been more negative. During the time, most of us have lost something, even if we do not realize what that thing is. For some of us it was a job, or a college experience, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a home or a relationship. Some of us lost our dreams, our hopes, our ability to plan for things. What this means is, it has been all about surviving and stopped being about thriving.
People are coming into therapy, unaware consciously, that they are in some form of a rut. At a certain point in time, this "rut" feels so normal. At first, it happens slowly. We stop doing those small things that make ourselves feel better, like getting any form of physical activity. Then, you are not eating healthy, not sleeping, living on caffeine and fast food. It becomes all about working, paying bills, caring for children, parents, pets, always feeling like you have too much to do.
After a while of being in a "rut" like this, you may find that you no longer feel like talking to people, even the ones you used to enjoy talking to. Maybe you stopped doing things you used to enjoy. Or you have noticed that you are tired a lot, that you cannot get out of bed in the morning and cannot wait to get back into bed at night. Maybe you stopped eating, or maybe eating is the only thing bringing you comfort. Perhaps you cannot concentrate and have no motivation to get anything done, your memory no longer seams to work and you cannot remember the last time you actually felt something.
Very often, I find that by asking the simple question, "do you think you are depressed?", people are unaware that they have been walking through life depressed for a long time. Much like anything else, there are varying degrees of depression. Sometimes it can be related to a recent loss or event, other times it can be long term. Whichever the case, you do not need to manage your depression alone.
There are many treatments for depression, many things that can help. Of course, starting at home is always a great place to begin. Exercise, physical activities, proper self care and trying to engage with people can help. But sometimes depression is so bad, that doing things at home is no longer helping, because maybe you just cannot get out of bed. Talk therapy is always a great tool in managing depression. In addition, sometimes psychotropic medications are necessary, though this does not mean you need to be on medication for the rest of your life, as every person is different. In addition to talk therapy and medication, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is another form of therapy that can aid with depression.
The most important thing to know, you do not have to deal with depression alone. If you think that you, or a loved one, is struggling with depression, do not be afraid to talk about it. Left alone, depression does not get better, nor does it go away on its own. Left untreated, depression is an illness that can be fatal. Help is out there, no one needs to go through life alone.