Anger and guilt. Depression is often associated with, maybe even
concealed by, other emotions, especially anger and guilt. Research
reveals that anger with the spouse is often the true source of
depression. Therefore, the other emotions may have to be dealt with
before the sadness shows itself clearly. Then the depression can be
deconditioned, attacked cognitively, or understood through insight.
Remember, our guilt may be unjustified (see section above) and our
anger is likely to be suppressed (see next chapter). Flanigan (1996)
writes about forgiving yourself. Often we are very angry about how we
have been treated, but we have been taught that it isn't nice to be
hostile (and besides it may actually be dangerous), so we don't talk
about it. Venting might help. Determinism, too.
Shame. In some cases, for instance with shame, it may be
necessary to uncover the original early childhood pain that made
us feel inadequate. Then you can nurture the hurt, fragile inner child
and build your self-esteem using more rational and mature methods.
Several ways of reducing shame are described in the special section on
shame above. Be sure to see John Bradshaw's books.
Our inner child. Chopich and Paul (1993) describe how our "inner
child" may be abandoned and shamed by our own "inner adult." When
this happens the inner child feels very negative about itself, including
feeling bad, shame, fearful, and in need of addictions to numb the
hurts. Their treatment (it could be self-help) involves encouraging our
adult part to attend to, accept, protect, and take care of our inner
child. A healthy, protected inner child is very valuable to us; it is
intuitive, creative, passionate, full of wonder, playful, energized,
sensitive, wise, and fun. Basically, self-help of an insight nature for
depression involves getting to know our true feelings, i.e.
understanding and accepting our self, including our inner child. Self-
esteem results, in part, from our inner adult loving our inner child.
Again, see the discussion of shame in the previous section.
The best treatment
I'll end this long chapter with a description of ideal treatment. It is expensive
unless you have good health insurance. It is certainly extensive and hard
work. One of the more highly recommended (particularly by insight
therapists) self-help books for depression is by a psychologist, Richard
OConnor, Undoing Depression, 1999). In essence his book recommends
getting an insight therapist and then supplementing that therapy with careful
self-observations that help the depressed person understand how and why
they are different and depressed. In conjunction with the insight therapist,
the patient can observe how he or she sees the world; how he or she doubts
that he/she can ever change and meet their own standards; how he/she feels
towards and interacts with others; how he/she sees more criticism and
hostility directed toward him/her than others do; how he/she is puzzled by
human emotions, and so on. These are not easy feelings to uncover and they
tap into both the scarier feelings and the stronger needs of a depressed