Musings on Depression, Imago and Relationships

There are many reasons why we can feel down, blue or depressed.  Often it is the normal reaction to events in our life:  a bad evaluation at work, a fight with our kids, the death of someone we love, or simply feeling overwhelmed by stress and life (and occasionally hormones).  Everyone feels blue sometimes and usually if we reach out to friends, take care of ourselves or just sit it out it will pass.  Sometimes however we get stuck in the down cycle.  Days, weeks, months pass and we’re still feeling blue.  We don’t want to eat or we eat too much, we can’t sleep, or we can’t get out of bed, we don’t feel motivated to do anything and somehow no matter what we do we don’t feel any pleasure.  If this is going on for you then there is a good chance you are depressed in the psychological sense of the word.  The general concensus in the psychotherapy community is that the most effective approach to such feelings is a combination of antidepressant medication, talk therapy, and some simple lifestyle changes. 

Often when I discuss medication with clients they don’t like the idea – they’re afraid of getting hooked, they don’t like the way medications make them feel, or they believe that they should be able to kick this thing on their own – all good reasons.  Unfortunately the nonmedical steps you can take to overcome depression all take some motivation and will power – often hard to come by when you are feeling down.  If you do want to take the nonmedical approach here are some simple steps you can take:  eat healthy (especially omega 3 fatty acids found in fish for example), exercise in a way that gets your heart and lungs pumping, get as much sunshine as possible, do something nice for yourself each day, make sure you get out of the house each day, practice smiling even when you don’t feel like it, watch funny movies/tv (laughter releases endorphins), and sing!  A recent blurb in Consumers Reports On Health mentioned that among the healing powers of singing in groups like a chorus or choir is that singing has been shown to ease depression – go figure!

And of course from an Imago perspective, nurturing your core relationships is key.  In Imago we believe that we learn how to deal with pain in our earliest relationships.  It follows that if the hurt and pain were learned within a relationship context, then we can most effectively experience healing and relief within our most precious relationships.  If you are feeling bad take the risk of asking those you are closest to for support and nurturance.  You will be amazed at how healing it will feel.  Also, paradoxically, if you can muster the energy to reach out to help those less fortunate than yourself, whether it’s reaching out to a friend in need, or perhaps doing some volunteer work, you will also experience this as healing.  This is because the old brain doesn’t know the difference between the self and other.  So when we help others to feel good we end up feeling good ourselves.

In summary – eat right, exercise, get outside, and nurture yourself and others.  If you continue to feel blue reach out to a professional for further support.  Good luck.

Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

Comments are closed.