Common Depression

Depression is a depressing topic. So many people have been diagnosed as ‘depressed,’ yet the cause is still unknown. The ‘cures’ are often not effective, and may even result in further problems. Most people end up receiving medications, or Electro-Convulsive Therapy, or are being advised to use biofeedback techniques. These remedies seem to help some people; in others, the ‘remedies’ can actually worsen depression. Medical and health professionals, across every scientific field, have not found a definite or universal cause of depression, thus a cure is would be impossible.

This article is important because it sheds new light on the cause of depression. Using a new theory developed out of my own experience, I state that the quality of your life is centrally determined by the quality of your Sense of your Self. I am confident to make the startling assertion that the cause of depression lies, ultimately, in the lack of a healthy Sense of Self.

The connection between depression and Sense of Self is not immediately obvious. I encourage you to think about what I am going to say here. What I say is based on my personal experience and on my observations of others, which have led to this theory.

Concerning Depression, my theory asserts: Depression occurs when success in completing an action or behavior that is perceived as crucial to achieving desperately desired parental approval1 is thwarted. Now you feel, “There is no hope for me to do what I perceive is necessary to be happy.”

Thus,’s answer to overcoming depression is: “Increase your Sense of Self. That makes you less dependent on the outcome of your achievements, actions or behavior or of what others think of you, inclusive of your parents. The moment you are truly independent of those, you are free and not depressed!”

Self’ is a common term, but what does it actually mean?  How do you experience your ‘self’? There are healthy and unhealthy ways to experience your ‘self.’ I believe that the root cause of depression lies in a defective, unhealthy way of experiencing one’s ‘self’, and that people in whom a Sense of Self naturally has developed at the right time in childhood are NOT prone to depression!

The healthiness or unhealthiness of a person’s sense of self starts in infancy. If we are lucky as an infant we are regarded as a separately-existing, autonomous Being (Self). Too often, children are regarded merely as pawns in the ‘emotional games’ of the primary caretaker.

In the latter case, Nature comes up with a substitute to fill the void of no sense of being an autonomous, independent Self. The child becomes dependent on the approval of the primary caretaker (and eventually others) in order to feel good about whom they are, which is as close as they ever get to feeling like a Real Person.

Note: ultimately the approval becomes a ‘virtual approval’, which we are giving to our self when the primary caretaker is no longer around us.  This “virtual approval” is not an authentic or true opinion of ourselves. This self-judging system is just as powerful as the voice of the parent was in the first place — if not more powerful!

The original void, that lack of a solid sense of being a Real Person, caused by a lack of being regarded as a Real Person, is intolerably painful. The void gets filled by an unhealthy dependence on approval, which is a poor and unhealthy substitute for being truly respected as a Real Person. Without that approval, then, there is a sense of not really existing, of feeling ‘annihilated.’

If you have been raised like those children, you might have a desperate compulsive need to do whatever you need to do to get that approval. So your whole identity, of being an ‘I’ or ‘me,’ is based on earning that approval by doing those things, or meeting those conditions or expectations of the primary caretaker.

If there is no way to feel-good-about-yourself through getting that (even virtual) approval, you might feel, on a deep level, that you don’t actually ‘have a right to be.’! The feeling-good-about-yourself is the most desirable thing in your life, because it is experienced as giving you ‘permission to be.’

Unfortunately, this feeling good is not a Sense of Self, but merely an unhealthy psychological structure which substitutes for a Sense of Self. It is a way to function which, because it is unhealthy, leads to all kinds of unpleasant effects on your quality-of-life-level. This feel-good-about-Self is what I call a Substitute Sense of Self.

Because so much is at stake, the behaviors leading to approval become addictive, compulsive, unavoidable, and compelling. Over the years, successfully getting (even self-administered, internalized, virtual) approval through these behaviors becomes the only motivation you might have, all you really want in life. Check within yourself right now. Can you find some of these compelled behaviors? What do you expect to get from them? Are they truly your identity? Are they truly so important that you cannot go on living your life without them being realized?

Now check within again. If you were to feel or anticipate that there would be no way you can possibly successfully get to this state of feel-good-about-yourself, and you are able to agree that, in fact, there is truth to the assertion that you perceive your identity is tied up in that feeling and the behaviors leading to that feeling, are you in some sort of a life-or-death situation as far as you’re concerned?  You (perceive to) depend on those behaviors because (you perceive that) they give you ‘permission to be’.

In the reality of the ‘present’ and the ’present you’ (or the ‘you’ who is actually present and not in the past) however, a) this feel-good-about-yourself is not so crucial as you now think; b) the behavior, action or achievement you think you depend on and that is thwarted for some reason isn’t the only pathway you can go in your life. There are other options. You just don’t (want to) see them! (Denial!)

Now it should be pretty easy to understand why you would feel depressed, if you were, long-term, unable to achieve the (self-) approval you need to feel-good-about-yourself. If, over the course of a reasonably long time, your intention to perform the necessary actions or display the appropriate behavior  would be thwarted by circumstances from outside, or even due to a situation you have created yourself, or simply because you are unable to succeed in it. That is what causes depression.

To feel unable to be successful in the realization of the for the purpose of getting that sense of feel-good-about-self -selected actions, behaviors or activities and that are individually different for every single individual, would indeed be a pretty depressing prospect, wouldn’t it? There would be hopelessness about being able to feel like ‘a person-who-really-exists!’

The above scenario may seem far-fetched to you upon reading this for the first time, but is not rare. In fact, starting with the infant’s unhealthy, unfortunate situation, that leads him to adopt an unhealthy behavioral strategy for feeling like a ‘self’, all the way to the moment in which this person starts to feel hopeless about being successful at the behaviors that were designed to achieve that feeling – and thus achieve a sense of ‘existing’ – the scenario is so common as to be considered an epidemic. Just like depression.

The good news is that if the above scenario is an accurate description, then the way out of depression becomes clear.

If the foundation of the problem lies in the way you experience your ‘self’, then you need to work on getting a stronger and healthier Sense of Self. You have to work on ‘restoring’ your Sense of Self.

How do you restore your Sense of Self?  You find ways to be deeply and constantly in touch with the awareness that your life is about you as an independent and autonomous person – not about getting the approval of others. These ways are known, and are described by

With a ‘Restored Sense of Self’, the behaviors you used to identify with and used to require for your ‘survival’, the behaviors which you were addicted to and compelled to do, are no longer needed.  You no longer need them to generate the good-feeling- about-yourself to fill the inner sense of emptiness and invisibility, because the void isn’t there anymore. The initial (Indirect) Motivation for those strategies, those behaviors, those ways of feeling and presenting yourself to the world, lose their intensity; they are no longer important for your survival (compare Direct and Indirect Motivation)

You can still do those things, but based on a different motivation. They have lost their emotional ‘charge’. Now you can either do them, or choose to do other ones instead just because you like doing them because they are pleasant or enjoyable or because ‘they need to be done’.  Now you are free and there is no need for and no trace of depression.

You can learn to look at life with you own mind, through your own eyes, feeling your feet touching the ground, knowing that your body is the house for your spirit, and that your life is about you and what you actively choose to do and be.

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