It’s not uncommon to experience depression and not know why you’re struggling.
I often hear people say:
“I have no reason to be depressed”
“Everything is right with my life, why am I not happy?”
Believing there is no reason to be depressed is invalidating to the individual and can lead to self-blame. Such self blame causes feelings of shame and anger. Unfortunately, this experience compounds depression. And individuals may not seek help, afraid their situation is helpless given “nothing is wrong with their life”.
However, it’s important to realise that you don’t need to have something “wrong” with your life to experience depression. Similarly, you won’t necessarily experience depression just because something is “wrong” in your life.
In fact, depression is not caused by one singular thing. Rather, depression comes from a “story” of events and risk factors, which are not always obvious to an untrained eye.
What makes someone vulnerable to depression can be a range of factors, which can date back to early childhood. For instance, a family history of depression increases the genetic risk of depression. Even a baby’s temperament can increase or decrease an individuals susceptibility to depression.
Obvious things such as, childhood abuse or neglect, can also increase a persons risk to later developing depression. Or if you’re bullied in school, you may run a higher chance of experiencing depression in your teenage years. If you’ve been exposed to any kind of trauma, or witnessed domestic violence, you are more at risk of depression.
But there are also less obvious factors that can play a role in contributing to depression. For example, you’re more susceptible to depression if you’ve had a parent who has been critical or hard on you. Even just your stage of life can increase a persons risk of depression. And women are more likely to experience depression than men.
But it’s important to remember we all carry risk factors to depression, and just because you have one or a few risk factors, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to be depressed. Rather, it is multiple risk factors combined with life event/s, which create a “story” of how depression develop.
An easy way to think about how depression develops is to imagine a dam filling up with water – the water represents the risk factors to depression. The dam typically functions well, withstanding the pressure from the building water. However, if something big crashes into the dam, akin to a life event (e.g. a lightning strike), then the walls to the dam may start to crack; and early symptoms of depression may develop.
Life events that trigger depression vary greatly among people. For some people, work stress can trigger depression, while for others it may be the loss of a loved one or adjusting to something new, such as a new job or city or becoming a parent that triggers depression.
Seeking help for depression
When you first seek help for depression you may not fully understand why you’re depressed. However, a good psychologist will help you gain insight into your “story”. As to understand your “story” and build insight into why you’re depressed will empower you to make change. Gaining insight into how depression developed will help you move on from past painful experiences and resolve “stuck” emotions. In other words, through understanding your depression “story” you will be able to start repairing your dam, to eventually build a dam with stronger walls.
How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?
Our team of warm and professional Melbourne-based psychologists are trained and experienced in helping individuals overcome depression. We are also skilled in treating anxiety and other difficulties connected to depression, such as relationship difficulties, poor self-esteem, work anxiety, and grief and loss. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.