I’m not naive enough (at least I don’t think?) to think that I have the one reason that depression is such a difficult state of being. Depression has a different root for everyone — and it’s often a collection of sources, rather than just one thing contributing to depression.
That being said, there is an overarching theme that I see with how people who are in depressive states experience depression, versus how people who are not in depressive states feel about depression.
Depression is emotional. It is not logical. People often try to explain and rationalize to others why they shouldn’t be depressed, or tell them to look on the bright side and start pointing out all of the positives they should be seeing, etc. But the truth is, depression is an emotional state of being that a person cannot be rationalized out of.
Think about a time in your life where you stayed awake for over 24 hours, to the point that you could no longer hold your eyes open no matter how hard you tried. If a person came to you and started telling you all the reasons you should be able to become wide awake again, it’s highly doubtful that it would help you suddenly feel awake and revitalized when you’re in that state of being.
Depression has an impact on overall experience: thought process, physiology, and depression can also at times have a biological component feeding all of this. It makes the concept of getting out of bed, socializing, eating, cleaning, etc., all feel daunting — like trying to climb a mountain after 24 hours without sleep.
When logic is used to counter emotions, whether it’s for anxiety, depression, phobias, stress, etc., it’s almost useless to anyone who is entrenched in an emotional state. (When someone has just gone through a breakup, has anyone really ever suddenly felt better when they’re told, “You deserve someone so much better?”).
Logic, behavioral strategies, and self-talk, can maybe help motivate someone forward when they’re in a mild to moderate state of depression, but much beyond that, logic becomes a source of frustration and invalidation. It makes the struggling person feel defective and that they are in some way to blame for the emotional state they are stuck in. And it makes the people who are trying to help become increasingly frustrated and ready to blame the struggling person for being so “stubborn”.
AGAIN — WHY IS DEPRESSION SO DIFFICULT?
To reflect on this question, one significant reason is because the tendency when people try to “fix” things is to throw logic and concrete solutions at it. But depression isn’t something you fix, it’s something you work through.
Emotional processes need to be worked through in various ways (and these ways are different for each person, depending on history) to help people work through the present and underlying areas that contributes to this state of being.
Support and encouragement are certainly helpful, but trying to give the “right” answer to a person’s depression won’t resolve the issue. It’s difficult to be patient while people work through an emotional process. People today are used to being instantly gratified, and when a process takes time, it can be difficult for the one struggling, and for everyone around them to be patient.
The key during a state of depression is to make sure there is a forward moving psychoemotional process — meaning therapy, or some form of professional mental health care — that can help move the emotional process from the stuck place, and into a more reflective, forward-moving process.
When people try to push through on their own, it can often lead to reinforcing a cycle, rather than moving forward (it’s hard to be able to provide oneself clear insight when in the midst of an emotional state). Seeking outside help is a wise choice if you find yourself stuck in any emotional state — whether it be depression, anxiety, chronic headaches, phobias, or any other way you feel in a stuck cycle. .