Why am I depressed if my life is fine?
Sometimes, feelings of depression can seem a complete mystery. Everything in life seems to be ‘in place.’ A person might have supportive friends, a good job, financial security and a loving family yet still feels unhappy or as if life is not worth living.
Regardless of a person's external circumstances, it's their internal ones that are important when it comes to depression. It is not simply enough to have pleasant experiences in life, you must be able to extract the appropriate emotional satisfaction for them to have the required effect!
If every time you achieve something, you think 'Oh well, anyone could do that', or 'I was just lucky', you are missing an opportunity. Although this may seem like a small thing, on an ongoing basis, and in conjunction with other depressive thinking styles, it can lead to a lack of meaning and self confidence.
Adapting to change
Life circumstances can change abruptly and drastically, and it is at these times that our ability to adapt is most tested. There is a natural tendency to want things to continue the way they have been, but new circumstances require new responses, and depressive thinking patterns and the resulting emotional arousal can make it difficult to adapt.
Also, if you have faced an adverse situation for a time which resulted in your feeling depressed, you may not be able to change your 'life view' once circumstances change. Habit patterns of thought can be hard to break when you don't have a clear idea of what to do. At these times, help from a appropriately trained professional can help. (Make sure it's the right kind of help though - see the Learning Path.)
Living in the past
It is common for depressed people to dwell on past times past that were not so good. ‘Where did I go wrong? How could that have happened?' However understandable, this is often a dead-end. Living in the past rather than the present can maintain depression even when things are currently good. If someone is traumatized by a time which keeps resurfacing leaving residual feelings of fear then they need to find a professional who is skilled at deconditioning trauma and who understands what depression is.
Life can seem as if it is meeting all of our needs but if you take a long hard look is there anything that is missing? Life can seem perfect and, even if financially secure, we still have very human needs such as working towards goals, feeling connected to others in meaningful ways, the feeling that we contribute, the feeling that we are understood on an intimate level whether by friends or a partner.
A prime example of this was a man who worked very hard all his life and, at the age of fifty, retired a millionaire! He very rapidly became extremely depressed. What was missing from his ‘perfect life’ was that his very strong need to create and build something up was no longer being met.
He later got into Trans-Atlantic yacht sailing and started a charity which went from strength to strength. This met his needs and his depression lifted.