Our starting point is not the usual starting point in a discussion of depression. Usually depression is characterized as an illness or as a biological, psychological, social, or spiritual disorder.
We will start at a different place by asserting that the thing called “depression” is human sadness in one or more of three areas: sadness about the self, sadness about one’s circumstances, and sadness about life itself.
Before we address these three varieties of sadness I want to present you with the rationale for looking at “depression” as human sadness and not as an illness or a disorder.
It is no longer possible to feel sad and blue without someone wanting to call that “depression.” For the longest time human beings made the sensible distinction between feeling sad for reasons (say, because they were jobless and homeless) and feeling sad for “no reason,” a state traditionally called melancholia. With the rise of four powerful industries, the pharmaceutical industry, the psychotherapy industry, the social work industry, and the pastoral industry, it is has become increasingly difficult for people to consider that sadness might be a very normal reaction to unpleasant facts and circumstances. Cultural forces have transformed a great deal of normal sadness into the “mental illness” of depression.
In fact “sadness” and “depression” have become one for diagnosis.
- According to the biological depression model, you are the problem: something in you is not working correctly.
- According to the psychological depression model, you are the problem: maybe it’s your learned helplessness, your unresolved conflicts with your parents, your low self-esteem, or something.
- According to the social depression model, you are the problem: maybe you’ve become too isolated; maybe you haven’t provided yourself with enough social support, etc.
- According to the spiritual depression model, you are still the problem: you haven’t made the right spiritual connections, given yourself over to God, tapped into your spiritual nature, and so on.
These four models identify you as the problem. Life is never the problem. How odd! How odd to think that our sadness might not sometimes be related to our life circumstances or to the facts of existence.
Just have a think about the following questions which clearly relate to our life circumstances and then consider how you could use these questions when discussing state of mind with employees.
- Do you have difficulties sleeping?
- Are you tired a lot?
- Do you have trouble finding pleasure at home and at work?
- Is it hard for you to make decisions?
- Are you uncertain about your path in life?
- Do you feel irritable and out of sorts?
- Are you hungry all the time?
If you need help talking to employees about depression or want to look at how you can support employees better speak to us about training, counselling and mediation services. If you feel someone is suffering from depression and want to refer them for support via occupational health, speak to us about our quick turnaround times. Call one of the team on 01924 827869.
This article was written by our Accredited Counsellor, Christine Tooze.