Co-occurring Disorders: Trauma and Depression

By December 4, 2023January 3rd, 2024Co-Occurring Disorders
villa kali ma can help you get free from depression

What Is Depression?

When we’re depressed, we have a low mood, coupled with negative thoughts about ourselves and the world. We may feel very heavy-hearted and sad, as the old word for depression, “melancholia”, captures.

Depression can feel like we’re over-grieving without even knowing what we’re so blue about, maybe even grieving our own lives or who we used to be. We can feel isolated, still, and broken.

It is not unusual if we’re depressed to start to think about our own death. Even if we don’t think we would ever act on it, if we have some degree of longing to exit our life experience because we have no hope of ever being happy, that’s depression.

When we’ve got it bad, depression interferes with our ability to live our lives. The presence of depression and its signature bad feelings and low energy can make it very hard to complete our necessary life tasks. Seemingly simple things like participation in work and family life can feel impossible! If ignored for too long, depression worsens to an active desire to harm and even kill ourselves.

Depression is a symptom of deep heartsickness, and it can come from many things. One starting point of depression is trauma.

How Are Depression and Trauma Related?

villa kali ma can help with trauma with trauma-focused treatment centerTrauma leaves a tragic legacy of unresolved fear, anger, and helplessness in the nervous systems of affected people.

What is recorded in the nervous system as biological information is experienced by us subjectively as our lives, who we are and what are our life stories. When trauma has shaped us, we feel and think about our lives through the lens of dysregulated, imbalanced states: deep disconnection, anxiety, shame, suppressed rage, unworthiness, loneliness, and a profound lack of safety.

The trauma response is biological – it feels like death to the mammal you are because trauma is related to your natural, instinctual gifts for survival and self-protection at the deepest levels of your body and being.

When something we lived through activates our survival instincts into high gear, and we never quite get the opportunity to fully complete and resolve that experience and return to true, total safety, we may struggle with trauma symptoms until we finally have the chance to do so.

One clue of the relationship between depression and trauma lies in the fact that depression carries a strong note of helplessness, which is the essence of the trauma experience.

Depression is anecdotally sometimes called “anger turned inwards”. In the case of trauma-generated depression that is literally true. The lingering feelings of life-protecting anger (think mama bear protecting cub) that were once a natural biological response to extreme boundary violation or life threat, turn toxically against the self.

The more trauma is researched and understood, the more it looks to be the case that most mental health problems originate in, or at the very least are inextricably interwoven with the phenomenon of traumatization.

How Is Depression Treated?

Depression can be treated in a lot of ways, so think about your values and what matters to you, as you will probably be able to find help that fits to your best and highest nature and beliefs if you look around a bit. From yoga to functional medicine, art therapy to somatic experiencing, logotherapy to plant medicine, many different avenues to healing from this particular kind of pain exist.

Quite commonly in the mainstream, people with depression are given prescriptions for anti-depressants. Many voices within the mental health field represent the point of view that anti-depressants are not a good solution for many reasons, so it is wise to inform yourself before necessarily taking that route. If you are curious to evaluate this for yourself, a good starting point resource may be the website Mad in America, which takes a critical look at whether or not psychotropic medications are delivering the benefits they are advertised as delivering.

Regardless of your decision about whether or not to medicate, depression is beneficially supported by many other paths as well. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches you to think better thoughts, Parts Work and other trauma modalities help you feel safe and valuable again, and the many tried and true forms of traditional psychotherapy have helped many women before you.

Finally, a healthy lifestyle, food choices, and exercise should not be underestimated or overlooked when treating depression, as these are nature’s most powerful allies for returning your body to the land of the living.

What Should I Do About Feelings of Depression?

trauma and depression in womenIf you’re struggling with depression, the first thing we urge you to do is stop blaming yourself for it. No one wants to be depressed or get depressed on purpose. This is a case for compassion, not criticism! That said, take it seriously. It is causing more harm than you probably are in a condition to fully see.

You are not alone if you have depression. Even though our very disconnected society makes it hard for us to have those conversations, the truth is that many, many other people also deal with the challenges of this particular soul sickness.

On the positive side, many people who know what depression is like have found viable, joyful paths out of it, and live happily enough on the other side. You can too.

It is a good idea to get help. It is very hard to cure depression from within the experience because having positive, kind attention is a human necessity to even see ourselves and understand what’s going on.

Once you’ve had enough help from another person, you will know how to handle it on your own most of the time, and you don’t have to worry about becoming dependent on therapy. In the beginning of figuring out how to get out from under a depression, kind, compassionate, smart help is key.

The nervous system learns what safety and balance are mainly through the mechanism of mirror neurons, that co-regulate us to the nervous system of someone who’s not in a state of trauma, so just being around other people is a big part of healing.

If you are struggling with depression and trauma, you may want to get support from us here at Villa Kali Ma, at our new treatment center, The Retreat! We have opened the doors of this very special trauma-focused treatment center so women can have a safe, beautiful space to reside while they turn over a new leaf. Consider it – we’d love to have you.

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