Depression Following a Life Crisis: Ways to Help
A strong association exists between stress and depression and a known trigger for both involves our exposure to life crises. Issues tend to take on greater emotional significance when we are ill prepared for them. A crisis often reflects the fact that the event is something singular, a rare occurrence that we have little background or preparation for, which results in psychological and sometimes physical trauma.
In this post I’m offering a few ideas to help in areas that we might typically come across. I’ve included mugging and theft because despite the fact it remains comparatively rare it can and does occur, for some people and in some situations more than others.
Loss: the loss of someone close can bring about all sorts of reactions. This is one area where denial, anger, sorrow, guilt, confusion, can become muddled and the notion that there is a standard set of reactions just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. This really is an issue where, in normal circumstances, time heals. This is also a time for gentle support and being prepared for moods to shift and sometimes change rapidly. Anything can trigger a reaction; a smell, a song, a sound. Our senses are intimately linked to emotion and memory. Sometimes just being there is enough. Bereavement is a process and it can take a lot longer than many people realize.
Illness: In some ways a long-term or chronic illness can be likened to loss. The loss of role, the fear of job loss, status, reduced income and so forth can eat away at confidence. Again, time and patience is key to helping out. It can take a long time for someone to accept life is changing, and sometimes for the worse. Acceptance often brings a form of adjustment at which time new and different options might be explored with your help.
Theft: Anyone who has been mugged or burgled or had their car broken into or stolen knows the sense of anger and outrage that follows. Such events can make people feel highly vulnerable and sensitized to the prospect of further assault. In some cases it can trigger depression. Being a victim is about invasion of personal space, of trust and a sense of betrayal. The material things of life can usually be replaced although loss of highly sentimental objects can be deeply upsetting. Supporting someone through these times is partly about commiserating, but also allowing the person to voice their anger, confusion, and negative feelings about the incident. It’s about accepting bad things have happened but pointing out that an individual did this, which in no way reflects the experiences he or she is most likely to encounter.
Unfaithfulness: Here on HealthCentral we get a lot of questions and comments about unfaithfulness or partnership breakdown. Often, the questioner finds it hard to accept the relationship has run its course and they look to other reasons, such as depression, as a possible cause of disharmony. Of course it is possible that depression is affecting a relationship, but from a distance we can only speculate. An unfaithful partner leaves behind a legacy of anger, upset, betrayal, sadness and the total sense of being unloved and abandoned. It can be crushing. Listening to someone who has been ‘dumped’ can be a difficult thing. They seek all manner of answers, pick over little incidents and memories and highlight the inconsistencies in the lead up to abandonment. All any of can really do is listen, accept and support. In time mood will lift and trust in others will slowly re-establish.