Fear as a Source of Depression
As we move into uncertain times, I’m seeing anxiety widely discussed on social media, but I haven’t seen much talk, yet, about depression, which can often ride right along.
So, this goes out to the folks that lean in that direction.
Depression can be triggered by fear, especially if you are already wired in that direction. Here’s a piece I wrote a bit ago, that talks about the relationship between fear and depression:
Culturally speaking, I don’t think that we talk enough about fear, as a source of depression. Often, when people think of depression, they think that it is sourced from sadness or internalized anger. Sure, it can be. But, depression is very complex.
Fear is also a primary source of depression symptoms. I’m not talking about the “hey, I’m afraid of spiders” kind of fear (although, maybe that too, depending on the degree of your fear of spiders). I’m talking about paralyzing and debilitating fear—fear of safety, fear of failure or success, fear of not belonging, fear of change or loss.
When you experience fear at these levels, your brain and body seek to keep you safe. You may, unconsciously, go into a trauma response: fight, flight, freeze, fawn or flop. Paralysis and inaction is a freeze and/or flop response. When people experience depression symptoms, they often feel completely drained, foggy, lethargic, or paralyzed.
Believe it or not, your body/mind is trying to protect you. This shutdown, in the form of these symptoms, are seeking to keep you in inaction and/or numb, to protect against a subconsciously (or consciously) perceived threat. Your brain believes that your actions will perpetuate danger, or that you are under threat, in general.
So what do you do if this sounds familiar? Through mindfulness practices, and/or with the help of a professional, you target the specific source of your fear. As you become more conscious of what the actual fears are, you can begin to shift their stronghold on your brain and body. Often, that will involve some type of somatic (body based) healing, as these fears are usually stored deeply in the cells of your body. But change is possible!
Based on our current experience, I’m going to add that a collective threat, like this virus, will activate this trauma response. But, the salve is still the same…see if you can get VERY specific about what you are PERSONALLY afraid of, so you can target solutions around those fears.