The third Monday of every January has been declared “the most depressing day of the year.” Even though there’s little scientific evidence that depressed moods peak at this time, many people do start to feel blue this time of year for one reason or another. In many parts of the country, the weather is cold and dreary, the holidays are over and the credit card bills from said holidays need to be paid.
It’s important to note, that there’s a significant difference between feeling a little blue and suffering from clinical depression. If you’re not sure whether what you’re feeling is a temporary “funk” or something serious, please reach out to a healthcare professional.
But, for those suffering from clinical depression, January as a whole can be an extremely troubling period of time.
Family dysfunction or unresolved childhood trauma can play a big role in depression after the holidays. The holidays tend to be a time where we have an abundance of expectations and needs. Unfortunately for most of us, these expectations and needs do not get met in exactly the way we hoped or imagined. In a dysfunctional family, the results can be even worse with unmet needs leading to the feeling of “I don’t matter.”
“Since human nature is to resolve conflict and trauma, we often tend to replay our trauma with our family this time of year, looking for resolution. When we do not get the resolution we hoped for, we can end up feeling emotionally exhausted, distraught or sometimes completely numb, “ says Scott Davis, Clinical Director at The Meadows. “Depression becomes a way to cope with the anxiety and lack of fulfillment we feel throughout the holidays and immediately after.”
There’s also difference between a “winter funk” and the more severe condition, seasonal affective disorder, a form of clinical depression that takes place during the winter months. Most people do not get enough Vitamin D or Vitamin K during the winter, which can lead to a lack of energy and motivation, and eventually depression.
It’s important to recognize and treat depression because it limits people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest and function well on a daily basis.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an important and effective approach in treating depression at The Meadows Inpatient and Outpatient programs, where relief can be found through a change in negative thought patterns. Our clinicians and therapists specialize in treating the underlying causes of depression as well as the symptoms that have surfaced from the depression.
Depression is overwhelming, but there is hope. Even the most severe and complicated cases of depression are treatable, and here at The Meadows, we offer individualized treatment so each of our patients can enjoy a more fulfilling life.
To learn more about our innovative treatment programs for depression, contact us here or call us at 800-244-4949.
By Amy Levinson, MA, LASAC, CSAT Candidate
Evening/Weekend Therapist at Gentle Path at The Meadows
Suicide…the ultimate ‘unmanageability’ of untreated addiction and depression. All addictions reside in the same place in the brain—the limbic system—and all are related to dysfunction in the pleasure-reward pathway. This older part of our brain keeps us alive; it’s all about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The pleasure, reward process is what an addiction tries to do; however, it never works ultimately.
For individuals in the throes of untreated co-occurring addiction and mental illness, the survival instinct goes awry; seeking pleasure turns to doing whatever it takes to avoid pain—even if it means the unimaginable, the ending of one’s life. The result of all addictions is a severing of the neural networks to the frontal cortex; that which makes us human, where logic, reason, judgment, creativity and spirituality live. The place in our brain where we are open-minded and willing to utilize recovery tools, people, fellowships, relationships, community, and faith to avoid pain.
As a recovering sex addict, I used to call my unmanageability ‘the black hole of doom.’ It awaited me around every corner. I experienced this anxiety as a tight ball in the pit of my stomach that never left me. I would do anything to not ‘feel’ it and my ‘acting out’ served that very function…until it didn’t, and my life became completely unmanageable.
Dr. Patrick Carnes frames the unmanageability of addiction as “experiencing severe consequences due to sexual behavior and an inability to stop despite these adverse consequences.” In Dr. Carnes’ book, Don’t Call It Love, 1991, he states that 72% of sex addicts reported suicidal obsession and 17% attempted suicide.
The function of all addictions is to mood-alter away from this black hole. The end game of untreated addiction and depression is that dark place where no amount of mood-altering will fill that black hole. A fatal disease, addiction…if left untreated.
Here at Gentle Path at The Meadows, we call this black hole ‘trauma,’ or anything that was ‘less than nurturing’ that you experienced growing up. We treat the root cause, the symptoms, and the unmanageability at the same time. You are supported with acceptance, warmth and assistance in dealing with your core beliefs that spring out of this trauma. You are educated, challenged and given the opportunity, the tools and the ability to change your perspective, thinking and ultimately your actions. As a result, that black pit of doom is dispelled; it cannot stand up to the light of day. Recovery is a gift you give yourself…the gift of life over death.
Those suffering do not have to die and neither do you.