Depression and Anxiety Help: Deep Wounds?

Depression and anxiety are all too common in our society with our busy and demanding life-styles. Despite having so much available to us and easy connection to more and more people with the click of a button, complaints of both continue to rise. Though depression and anxiety are triggered by current stressors and circumstances, the cause may be rooted in deeper emotional wounds. These wounds most often originate early in life as we attempt to cope with and navigate experiences in our homes and environments that are out of our control, hurtful, scary, chaotic, embarrassing, and possibly traumatic. We begin to develop beliefs about ourselves and the world around us that influence the way that we think and perceive new experiences, and thus the way we respond to events and challenges in our lives.

The beliefs we develop based on early emotional wounds may make it difficult to accept that life is going well and so worry about when things will fall apart. We may even self-sabotage, or get in our own way, our happiness, success and goals with procrastination and other behaviors because of fear or underlying beliefs about self-worth. We may notice that we tend to get stuck in a hole of feeling down and disconnected and find it almost impossible to crawl out. The feeling may be just a general sense of not feeling well and at our best which can be frustrating to say the least. We may or may not be able to point to a cause of these feelings and so feel overwhelmed with life.

Early emotional wounds, when triggered, impact our lives in many ways and we respond automatically without a conscious decision. These automatic responses are based on beliefs such as “I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I’m a fraud, I’m not safe, I’m not in control, I’m inadequate, I’m weak, I can’t trust others” and a host of others. We may not be aware of these underlying scripts but are all too familiar with the ways they affect our lives.

Memory includes the body and our experiences, especially negative and traumatic ones, are stored in our nervous system. When similar feelings as early emotional wounds are triggered, our bodies respond to the perceived threat, real or imagined. We all tend to have our go to response. For some, this is the sympathetic nervous system that activates the fight or flight response and body sensations related to anxiety. For others, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated which causes us to freeze and shut down. The symptoms here, when stuck, are related to depression. We do not have to remain stuck in either shock response and can learn how to better regulate our emotions and emotional response.

In therapy, we can begin to identify and heal early emotional wounds connected to trauma or negative life experiences. This permits us to move toward a fuller and more adaptive way of viewing ourselves and relating to our life. We may not have considered that our depression or anxiety is driven by our childhood, adolescent, or early adult experiences. Healing and relief of symptoms can be found through such an exploration. Therapy can help us to be aware of the thinking and beliefs that limit us and help to remove these limiting beliefs by healing the emotional wounds and opening ourselves to a more integrated and fulfilling life. This healing will connect us with our own strengths and resiliency that is ever available to us and open us to new possibilities of being.

The Boca Raton therapists at Morgan Center will work with you in uncovering, identifying, and healing possible emotional wounds from trauma that may contribute to your depression or anxiety. We want to help you move beyond both depression and anxiety. Morgan Center provides a safe and empathetic space in which to heal and grow and our therapists are skilled in treating trauma and the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Individual counseling can help to alleviate these difficult conditions. Seek help and get relief by calling (561) 366-2476 or book an appointment online now.


Impact of Perception on Depression and Anxiety

When we are rigidly fixed to any one role, the loss or fear of loss can bring us depression, fear and anxiety.  The anticipation of change and its uncertainty can consume us.  Depression is lamenting about the past and anxiety is fretting about the future. Neither allows us to touch our lives here and now and connect with a more extensive view and understanding of ourselves.  Depression and anxiety tend to keep us stuck.  They can fuel an inner dialogue that limits our potential, creativity, and openness to life.  This inner dialogue stirs emotions that are real, because we feel them, but not true because they are most often based on incomplete and false narratives that we allow to define our reality. Our perceptions color our reality.  This means that much of our reality, our life, is based on how we define it within ourselves.  We have all experienced days when we have felt down, melancholy, and see the positive in nothing.  On the other hand, when we wake up feeling positive the day is bright even if it brings challenges.  If we can see ourselves from the broader and deeper perspective we learn that we are much bigger than any one role. We begin to be available to learning opportunities in every experience, whether we perceive it as good or bad.  We begin to tap into our inner resources and strengths when we permit ourselves to access them.  The obstacles are the stories we tell ourselves and these stories, again, fuel depression and anxiety. For some they become a habitual loop that plays over and over again.

Life is constantly fluid and evolving.  Change is inevitable.  The roles we play today may not be the ones we embody tomorrow.  How we respond to change can result in suffering, fear, and anxiety. However, if we change our perspective we can be open and receptive to life and the ever-present opportunity for growth.  We often experience significant stress (including fear and anxiety) when we experience something we perceive as a loss.  We may experience a form of loss as retirement, loss of a job, a divorce or break up, the loss of a loved one, or illness.  In these circumstances, some feel helpless, experience fear, and suffer with anxiety.  Those who seek to find opportunity in difficult times often begin to have new and refreshing experiences. They may experience the transformation of sadness into joy, sickness into health, fear into gratitude, and anxiety in to peace. Change allows plants to ripen and fruit, children to grow and learn, adversity to turn to victory, and pain to transform once again to happiness.  We can remain present even during unstable times and become aware of a deeper part of ourselves that allows us to live full lives despite how we perceive the twists and turns of life.  It is important to understand that regardless of what we have lost, or what has changed, we are still whole at our core; we are not simply the roles we play. Through this learning, depression and anxiety may be reduced.

How do we do it? One way we may see ourselves as more than the roles we play is to embark on a journey of increasing self-awareness that leads us to better understand ourselves in an ever-changing world.  Such a journey requires us to seek that constant part of ourselves that remains steady despite outer circumstances and allows us to draw from inner resources and strength.  To foster this journey of self-awareness, we only need to ask ourselves the questions that help to guide us toward deeper meaning and purpose, however we define that.

Such questions help to expand and deepen our awareness of ourselves in the world.  They lead us to uncover blocks that prevent us from living our true purpose, such as rigidly held views or old patterns of thinking.  Make space for some quiet time apart, get in touch with the breath, and quietly explore these questions.  Listen without expectations and allow your inner resources to come up in their own time.  You may want to journal any insights that arise.

“Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.” -Viktor Frankl

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is, “Who am I?” As we ask this question, typical answers arise, such as, “a mom” or “a lawyer.” And as we keep asking this question and listening for the answers, we start to realize that we are more than a parent, a sibling, our career choice, and more than our past mistakes and successes.

When we keep asking the question and start to get beyond the obvious answers, what happens? Answers start to come. First, we identify the external anchors of our identity. But as we keep asking the question, “who am I?” the true answers become clearer. Our internal truth starts to arise.

Answers to this question can allow us to begin exploring our individual wants, needs, and authenticity to create a more meaningful life.  Exploring this question allows us to open, even when we are afraid, to the greater reality that we are, to question the inner dialogue, and connect with our true selves.  Are you willing to ask the question, “who am I?”