Depression, Anxiety, Loss of Direction
Depression, anxiety, and loss of direction are common experiences these days.
Depression and anxiety take many different forms and can have several causes.
Depression can range in milder forms from feeling blah or flat to more extreme forms where we have feelings of exhaustion, loss of interest in life, and even suicidal thoughts. Anxiety in its milder forms may mean we suffer from an ongoing sense of mild arousal (“on edge”), agitation, and worry. In its more extreme forms, we may feel we have no control over our thoughts, get spikes in blood pressure and heartrate, have a sense of panic, and we may even fear we are dying.
It’s very possible to feel depressed and anxious at the same time. You can feel blah about life while also feeling agitated and irritable.
Both depression and anxiety are treatable. Though you feel out of control of your life, counseling and therapy can help you regain a sense of being in charge of your life. You can then begin to live more freely and find pleasure in living your life as you wish.
Depression is more than simply feeling sad or grieving over a loss you’ve had in your life. Sadness and grief are a normal part of living.
When you are depressed, you may feel sad, but it may also feel like you’re tired, irritable, or down (“blue”) in an ongoing way. You may also feel agitated (“keyed up”) for no good reason, overly reactive, or have dark thoughts (e.g., “Maybe it would be easier if I weren’t around.”).
Depression can become more intense if it continues. You may: experience a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities (even ones you used to like), have significant weight gain or loss, have difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or sleep excessively, feel flat/exhausted, have difficulty concentrating, feel guilty or worthless, and have recurring thoughts of dying or of suicide.
Depression is a common condition and is very treatable. If you have symptoms of depression, you should get help. You don’t need to feel embarrassed by your symptoms or ashamed of seeking help.
I have been working with patients with depression for over twenty-five years. Depression counseling with an experienced therapist can provide you with the environment, feedback, experiences and tools to deal with your depression through psychotherapy. We will use a combination of talk therapy, body psychotherapy, and other techniques to help you regain your energy – and also address any current behaviors, life history, and long-standing patterns that have fed your depression.
Anxiety is a mental, emotional, and somatic experience where we may feel tense or pressured, have worried thoughts, and experience physical changes like excessive reactivity (being wound up, jumping at small things, or snapping at others), high blood pressure, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
Some anxiety in our life is perfectly normal. It’s part of the “fight or flight” mechanism that looks out for our safety and survival. We might be aroused/anxious when we have a “close call” on the road, or have healthy arousal when learning to handle a dangerous tool. Anxiety becomes a problem when it becomes extreme, or is an ongoing experience. People who struggle with anxiety may have recurring and intrusive thoughts or worries. They may also avoid situations because the very thought of that situation generates too much discomfort and worry about what could go wrong.
“Stress” is one way people describe the feelings of pressure that commonly come with anxiety. Stress management counseling addresses both the inner experience of arousal as well as finds ways to work with and balance the pressures experienced in one’s outer life.
There is also an anxiety condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is a result of having experienced an extreme trauma, or several traumas in your life. To learn more about this specific condition, see the page on Trauma Counseling and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Anxiety is a treatable. Anxiety counseling with an experienced therapist can help immensely. You can develop new perspectives on what is happening to you and you can learn practical mental and physical tools to deal with anxiety when it appears, and to develop more stability and resilience so anxiety is less likely to overtake you. We will use a combination of talk therapy, body psychotherapy techniques, and other tools to help you address both the symptoms and the roots of your anxiety and stress. As you address your anxiety, you can feel more open and able to live your life more fully.
Loss of Direction
Loss of direction in one’s life can be related to depressions (e.g., nothing appeals), anxiety (e.g. what is wanted seems unapproachable), or issues of identity and meaning. Commonly, loss of direction occurs around significant life transitions.
In many ways, the quest to (re)discover direction is to pursue our own answer to the questions of… who am I and what am I here to do, now? Depression and anxiety are natural responses to the loss of meaning, direction, and purpose. It also makes sense that we may be unaware of our next step if at some level the realities of who we are and what we want come into conflict with external expectations, or previous ideas we’ve held about ourselves.
Sometimes, loss of direction is related to very natural change points in our lives (e.g., graduation, a move, change in relationship, midlife, career transition, illness, loss, or retirement). Counseling and life coaching can help us in those times when we need to find new directions that feel more satisfying and fulfilling – and can help us navigate the discomfort that comes with making changes.
Loss of direction and meaning can also be a sign there is something deeper at work – where the question of “who am I?” takes on more profound implications (e.g., what is the nature of self?). Not surprisingly, deep psychospiritual questions of “who am I?’ may come up at these very natural life transitions as well, and need to be addressed at the same time (e.g., now that I’m in a career transition, what do I want to learn about the nature of who I am?). Integral-transpersonal psychology and practices for self-inquiry provide some roadmaps in these domains.
Psychotherapy and coaching can help with issues of loss of direction and meaning – by helping us explore new possibilities, name our truth, clarify inner conflicts, and try on new behaviors.
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or loss of direction, schedule an appointment with Dr. Martin to begin finding your way to the life you were meant to live and enjoy.