For about 14 years, I was a chronic depressive, and have been treated very effectively by Cognitive Therapy... if you're depressed, I'd definitely recommend this, ask your doctor about it. (And although I'm not keen on the chemical approach to psychological problems, I'll add that in my case anti-depressants did seem to work as a stop-gap... which is in a way annoying, since I don't think of the problems in those terms, but as being ways in which you get stuck in parts of your mental terrain.)

Characteristics of depression


As someone whose depression started at adolescence, I didn't realize that I was depressed -- I thought that was just what life was like (and that if it was worse for me than for most, it was deserved).


In depression, dependence on an external supply of self-esteem is very strong.

Unpopularity and Isolation

Unfortunately, self-esteem can't come from outside (although esteem inside is influenced -- through a depressive filter -- by people's reactions to you), so this doesn't really work, resulting in a stranglehold on people who make you feel better. This results in rejection by people, feeding a spiral of isolation.

More importantly, self-esteem is actually rather silly. Self-acceptance is what you should aim for.

If you find that people seem not to want to talk to you or to be with you, and you try to get them to talk to you and to be with you, but it doesn't work, the explanation of the former is simple: it is caused by the latter. It is not until you let people choose freely whether or not to be with you that they can choose to be with you.

Forced company is both icky and ineffective.

The grip of depression

In particular, when depressed, there are two major effects that tend, at best, to keep you depressed, and at worst, worsen the depression. These are:

  1. filtering your observations through a depressed viewpoint
  2. attempts to improve the situation, that actually make it worse


When depressed, it is natural to interpret events around you in such a way that they seem to confirm your worthlessness or loathsomeness.


When depressed, it is easy to believe (as described under ``filtering'' above) that people hate you. (There is actually some truth in this belief, in that depression often causes people to act in unpopular ways.) When the despondence of depression is not at its worst, one may try to push people into doing things which you can use to affirm you, annoying them by putting them in a situation where they have been trapped into assenting to be seen as saying something they don't actually believe, and trying to drive cause from effect which is always a poor strategy long-term, thus increasing the stranglehold mentioned above, leading to worse isolation and deeper depression.

The psychospiritual aspects of depression and its treatment

I realized during the treatment that some of the ideas echo things I have read in the Bible, and so I am starting to put together some ideas on Christian Cognitive Therapy, addressing the psychospiritual aspects of depression and neurosis.

John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Thu Jun 21 11:17:43 GMT Daylight Time 2007