Depression is Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual

Depression is Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual. 
Biologically, chemicals shift in the brain. This is where medications act, to return biology to its normal flow.
Psychologically, depression is guided by inner beliefs that get shaped during key periods of development. 
Socially, depression becomes intertwined with social roles. 
Spiritually, depression is affected by a sense of meaning and purpose in the world. 

There is often a focus on treating the biology of depression, when the psycho-social-spiritual is sometimes central to the path out. 

In recent years, there appears to be a growing problem with mental illness, especially depression, shaping identity and social roles for our new crop of adults. More and more young people are completely incapacitated by their depression identity: “I am a depressed person.” 
     Depression becomes what my inner voice tells me I “am.” 
     Depression is my role in society. 
     Depression is my identity and my purpose in the greater whole. 

Getting depressed as one of the first acts of adulthood leads to failure in adult roles. Depression leads to dropping out of college, or quitting jobs. Depression leads to living with parents and feeling incapable of building an independent life. Depression becomes the explanation for failure. And then it becomes an inescapable bind. 

Here are recent statements uttered by twenty-somethings with depression:

  • “My depression became my identity. At this point, it’s who I am.”
  • “I know that if I get better, if I give up my depression, I’m going to feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.”
  • “If I’m not depressed, then how else do I explain my failure in life?”
  • “If I’m not depressed anymore, it feels like I’m saying that my depression was never real. I fought to get my family to understand that my depression was a real illness.”
  • “If my depression improves even a little bit, my parents push me to get a job too quickly, and I will get depressed again.”
  • “My depression is all I know.” 
  • “Because of depression, I cut out all my friends.” 

Because depression right out of the gate leads to failure, overcoming depression and taking on adulthood can feel too big. The answer for depression as identity lies in treating the fully bio-psycho-social-spiritual nature of depression and not simply the biology. 

Posted on February 6, 2017 .